语言、思维

语言是人的思维的外现、载体。语言反映了一个人的理解与思考。这里的语言专指遣词用字。这几年,可能是读书的后遗症,我对于个人的遣词用字,尤其是在其他华文老师面前,更是非常谨慎。不仅如此,只要有机会,我也会尝试唤起其他华文老师对他们个人的遣词用字的意识。

过去三天一共开了四门课(三门玩转科技、一门Clinic)。昨天的Clinic来了四位有缘人(少了一位临时被校方指派带学生出国)。课上当然少不了上述的动作。从几位新朋友的反馈中,看得出他们对于科技在华文教学中的定位开始有了新的思考,即由ICT是辅助教学,过渡到ICT是促成教学的那么一个定位。

“辅助”在我们一般非学术性的理解,即可有可无(cf. 辅助读本、读物、刊物)。
“促成”即若不存在了,则无戏可唱也。当然,ICT的定位若是促成教学,则必得从ICT的affordance出发作思考。

今天打开早报网,就看到了《为激发学生对华文兴趣费尽心思 ,十一教师获颁全国模范华文教师奖》。非常恭喜这11位教师,以及许多没有获奖的教师朋友们辛苦了。

zaobao.com report

(acknowledgement: SPH/zaobao.com)

当然,熟悉我的朋友都知道我看了这一组标题会有什么”反应”。

这一组标题中有一个令我非常反应大的词,即“兴趣”。而且还出现了7次。“反应”之大大至我的论文研究所做就是拜其所赐(下载后看一看第5页的中文摘要)。

一个人学习的原因种种,“兴趣”只是百般原因之一。一个人之所以学(或不学),应该归咎于“动机 motivation”。学生学任何学科学得如何,是动机所致。简单地把学习和“兴趣”挂钩,第一、我会反问“没有兴趣就不能学了吗?”;第二、这或许无意识地泄漏了个人认知的有限。语言反映思维,如果认知中有上述的理解,为什么舍“动机”而用“兴趣”呢?第三、这反映了华文老师的不够专业。“兴趣”一词,大多数非教育工作者都说得出。“动机motivation”却是一个相对专业的名词。要提升华文老师的专业身份,反映我们对于教学的认识与思考,我们得在用语上求专业化。

语言反映思维,思维则影响教学设计。从专业的思考出发,一套引起“兴趣”的教学设计 vs. 一套引起“学习动机”的教学设计,你认为会有不同吗?为什么? (:

再说回上面ICT的话题,一个ICT作辅助的教学设计 vs. 一个ICT促成学习的教学设计,你认为会有不同吗?为什么? (:

knowing the wrong answers

we were talking about assessment literacy last week. and i chanced upon this article via fb feed “Why Teachers Need To Know The Wrong Answers“. to be able to assess students’ learning and facilitate improvement, teachers need to know all the answers (and their corresponding Whys).

Screenshot 2016-04-18 08.30.26

some lines that caught my eyes include:
“‘Students are full of all kinds of knowledge, and they have explanations for everything.’ From birth, human beings are working hard to figure out the world around us.”

– and how often teachers are responsible for ‘killing’ this curiosity?

“‘cognitive science tells us that if you don’t understand the flaws in students’ reasoning, you’re not going to be able to dislodge their misconceptions and replace them with the correct concepts.'”

– very absolute terms here, very ‘science’ — right vs. wrong. what do we have that are clear cut right and wrong in CL? and how often are we able to tell why one is right and the other is wrong? how many CL teachers have acquired the necessary linguistics knowledge, or the awareness/ability to learn about them on-the-fly/on-the-job/on-demand?

“‘Teachers who find their kids’ ideas fascinating are just better teachers than teachers who find the subject matter fascinating,'”

– i am not sure how many teachers around me are actually FASCINATED by their students’ ideas. i suspect more ‘irritated’ & ‘frustrated’ than anything else.

“‘The next step is to give students exposure to the information and experience that will enable them to reason their way to the right answer.'”

– and how often teachers just tell students the “right” answers outright in the face? in the name of efficiency of learning?

which level are you at?

no, this is not a RPG question, nor a rhetoric qn.

was reading and saw reference to John Biggs (1999)’s Levels of Teaching Competence in his other article ‘what the student does? teaching for enhanced learning‘.

so, using RPG-like language, i can probably ask a teacher “which teaching level are you at?”, or “which teacher level are you?” 😛

a quick list of the focus of the 3 levels of teaching competence:

level 1: focus on what the student IS
level 2: focus on what the teacher DOES
level 3: focus on what the STUDENT does

level 1’s focus is on knowledge transmission. teacher’s responsibility is to lecture, and assume students will ‘absorb’. if students do not learn, ‘blame the student’ (in terms of deficit in ability, attitude, study skills, motivation (Samuelowicz, 1987).

level 2’s focus is very much on what the teacher does to transmit knowledge (concepts and understanding) to students. a teacher will aim to work at equipping oneself with ‘an armoury of teaching skills’. PD is focused on ‘HOWTOs’. the deficit now lies with the teacher. ‘blame the teacher’ for being incompetent (teaching is a bag of competencies) if s/he doesnt transmit knowledge well.

level 3’s focus is on students learning. one may argue that this requires level 2’s competencies as a basis. perhaps so. but the focus is on what the student does, and the key qns for consideration is “what it means to understand those concepts and principles in the way we want them to be understood?”, and “what kind of teaching/learning activities are required to reach those kinds of understanding?” (p.63)

level 3 is ‘student-centered’ teaching. 1 & 2 are teacher-centered.

writing, marking

saw this article via a fb post/link this morning:

2016-02-17_082902Responding to Student Writing — and Writers

and i thought what the author pointed out are indeed in line with the spirit of social constructivism (meaning-making occurs in discourse/dialogue), and assessment for learning. 6 ideas to get it write:

  1. Differentiate comments on drafts from those on final essays.
  2. Give grammar lessons their own time and space.
  3. Create a partnership with students across the drafts.
  4. Extend these writing-based partnerships by having a class-wide conversation about commenting.
  5. Establish a class language for comments.
  6. Be encouraging.

the ideas assumed that composition writing is a process that involves drafts before finals. process writing is in the true spirit of developing writing competencies in our students. i must confess that i did not do this in the past. but if i were to be back in the classroom, this would be a must-do. otherwise, how can i expect my students to improve in their writings when (1) a one-off marked and return exercise may have too many issues to tackle (字、词、句、段、篇 all 5 areas add up is A LOT A LOT A LOT), not to mention this turns every essay into (2) a summative assessment in disguise.

development takes time for the learners. and in this case, it would most likely take up more time of the teachers. one thing that must definitely be looked into: the number of essays to be written as stated in the SOW. it would probably make a good experimental study to compare a class of students who completes only 4 (let’s say) ‘formative’ essays vs. a class of students who completes the usual 8 (let’s say) ‘summative’ essays.

downward spirals, upward spirals

a second consecutive post on Benjamin Zander. below’s a video on Zander’s sharing his teaching philosophy “the art of possibility”. saw it many times in the past, and can’t help but to feel rekindled by Zander each time i watch this video 🙂

extending some thoughts from the video, our education system is built on the downward spirals, and how learning can be transformed if learning is built upon upward spirals. let’s take how (un)well students are learning CL as an example.

the downward spirals talks include:
“学生学不好华文因为他们没有兴趣。”
“学生学不好华文因为他们讨厌华文。”
“学生学不好华文因为他们在家里只讲英语,和朋友只讲英语。”
“学生学不好华文因为他们连字都不认得几个,还整天写错别字。”
“学生学不好华文因为他们…………”

how would the worldview change if we were to frame all these thoughts into one main sentence:

“学生都能学好华文,他们还未发现(这个可能性)罢了。”

similarly, all the above downward talks can be reframed:

“学生都能学好华文,他们还未发现如何对它产生兴趣罢了。”
“学生都能学好华文,他们还未发现如何爱上它罢了。”
“学生都能学好华语,他们还未发现如何能有机会多说罢了。”
“学生都能学好华文,他们还未发现如何能学习好华文的字词罢了。”

这里的共同语是“还未发现如何”,那下一步是什么?不正是教师的工作、教师的职责所在吗?去引导学生发现,去引导学生怎么学,让学生在我们不在的时候(也就是大多数时候)都能学;方法,学习的方法是至关重要的。21世纪的华文教师如果只是单纯的知识输出者,那机器应该可以作更好的输出,而且可以无时无刻地输出、反复地输出,24/7。

我们的学生都是华文成绩A的学生,他们还未发现(这个可能性)罢了。这里需要关注”A”的作用。它不是我们一般让学生去追求的目标。用Zander的话:

“We give students an A not as an expectation to live up to. We give students an A as a possibility to live into.”

这个思维的转变是非常关键的。不然又要落入downward spirals中,不得超生。

the video:

some other quotes that caught my attention are captured here:

“When you give an A, the relationship is transformed.”

“We don’t give children a name as an expectation to live up to. We give children a name as a possibility to live into… We give students an A not as an expectation to live up to. We give students an A as a possibility to live into.”

“it’s “cosmic laughter” … The A is invented, the 68 is invented. We might as well invent something that lights up our lives, and the people around us.”

“In Asia it is important to be right. The teacher is always right… and a young girl said ‘If you don’t say anything, you won’t ever be wrong.”

“You cannot learn anything unless you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, this is how you celebrate…”

“The downward spirals …”

“A Vision, is not something only a few can reach. A Vision, is something that everyone can reach.”

“Everybody loves classical music. They just haven’t found out about it yet.” (vs. Only 3% of pple love classical music. If only 4% of pple love classical music, all our problems would be over.)

“It’s all invented. Standing in possibilities. Rule #6. That’s it. Simple.”

🙂