Final recommendations to teachers of English
Is there anything you are much against in teaching?
Resignation. Remember the poem? "There is no point in 'teaching' (my word) unless it absorbs you like an absorbing game." An artist experiments, works hard, breaks rules intuitively and reflexively. He does not resign himself to reproducing the same routines forever. And will not complain (at least not too often) about the hardships of a creative life.
While still at Teachers' College New York, John Fanselow (1987) published a book that prompted language teachers to experiment and was called precisely this: Breaking Rules. There are other professions that can give meaning to our life if teaching is not our passion. Quoting the poem again, "If it doesn't absorb you, if it's never any fun, don't do it."
What other things would you like to see in teachers or would recommend them to do?
A passion for excellence in everything, especially in daily work.
Reading continuously. Teaching books, of course, but also excellent books of all kinds that open for us new perspectives in life. These have a deep influence on our teaching even when we are not immediately aware of it .
Using students. Teaching them less and making them do more. In the foreign language, of course.
Not waiting for support to come. Starting with one's own resources and creativity. These are our best tools.
Making students love the language. If they do, they'll learn it.
These are not all our questions, but there has to be a limit to our interview. Is there anything else you want to add?
Yes. Iím most grateful to the three of you. Please, accept all my opinions in this interview for what they are -an old man's musings, a reference perhaps. I have no recipes. Only you can raise to your challenges and influence the reality of your classroom.
Una abraçada. Fins a sempre.
Not just yet. Can we finish with a quote from one of your own writings?
Well, how about this one?
The teachers I have [...] learned most from simply equate life and the classroom -their approaches to both teaching and learning. And although their personalities may differ a lot, they have some things in common. They enjoy their teaching, and show an inclination for divergence. They like to experiment, favour non-linear patterns of organization, and take creative risks in class. They love building mental links, discovering and creating patterns. [...] Their action is beautifully simple. They live and become alive in the classroom. They weave [...] tramas and grow at the same time as their students. (R. Ribé 2003)