how much to get involved
- Simon, if I were in Olomouc , for starters I might try to include the problem of the Roma population in my classes, and encourage students to get involved in some local ongoing projects, as that below from the Association of the Romanies in MoraviaProbably your Czech colleagues are not doing that. This is part of a TESOL of solidarity and social justice, that looks to the problems around and tries to get students thinking about them placed-based schooling of the social imagination, and of action against discrimination. Try discussing Rom with students and begin to see where the sparks fly. Maybe they really could get involved in one of the projects of the SRNM, or do special teaching for Roma kids. After all, youre at a teacher training college. Invite someone from SRNM to talk a bit to the students, explain how they could help. Have students search for material on Czech Roma in English on the Internet, plenty there.English language/culture teachers are a bit better placed to do that since (1) there is not set content for EFL, esp. from pre-intermediate level (other than what an education ministry might massively dictate as a syllabus, as in some countries, maybe not Czech Republic) and (2) language teaching is always some contact with the Other - other culture, window to some beyond.And Roma, Europes pan-underclass population, are very much around in your neck of Moravia , some Rom students are probably at your college.On May Day, here a good article by two British educators on critical teacher education for economic and social justice:http://www.jceps.com/index.php?pageID=article&articleID=96 Adrian may disagree, but this is heady, serious stuff. It challenges people to rethink what the classroom is about. What your own training has neglected. What a more liberatory practice might be. Esp. if you're training students to be teachers, as some of us are. --Bill+++++++++++++++++ASSOCIATION OF THE ROMANIES IN MORAVIA (SRNM)[...] There are four main parts of the projects. Firstly, it is the project which takes place in the surroundings of the town Olomouc and at the Jesenicko area. It is focused on improving negative socioeconomic conditions of the Roma people in the areas. Secondly, it is the project is situated in Olomouc and it includes schooling of children in order to help them to find the appropriate high school and prepare them on the entrance examination. The schooling is prepared at the basis of cooperation between schools, their teachers and our branch in Olomouc . Thirdly, it is the project of personal consultation and reconstruction of work-room ...
MessageWhilst I can sympathise with Bill Templer's wish to raise awareness of the issue of Roma in a teacher training course, I don't feel this approach would necessarily be the best way of fostering greater critical thinking and autonomy among teachers. It might, in fact, have exactly the opposite effect- a reinforcement of hegemonic practice. Where we need to start, I think, is not with what's we think is wrong with the world, but what our students think is right for them. And the first step is to involve them, wherever possible, in deciding what's right for them - to make decisions about content and purposes, not have them made by the trainer: just as we hope, in future, they'll allow their students to make decisions for themselves. So, if it's to be Roma, then let it be. If it's to be shopping for shoes, then so be it. If autonomy means anything, it means the right to be wrong, to choose wrong, to live wrong. If we make decisions for teachers, our fundamental message to them is going to be: the one in charge decides what's done. Because .. teacher knows best and, teacher trainer knows betterest! It's the old pyramid curriculum scam, all the way down.What impresses me most in teacher trainers or professors etc is what they do. Here, in the University where I work, one of the senior professors, for instance, cycles to the town centre bus station and from there catches the bus to our out-of-town campus. He arrives on the bus - with the cleaners and those few students unable to afford a car. His behaviour is quietly subversive - it takes away the excuse - yes, but I have to drive in, I have to have a car, I have to mark my status ... etc. His example a persistent question mark in the corner of the eye. An irritating reminder that there is an alternative to the norm.So, my modest proposal here would be, let's sort out the personal politics, then the classroom politics before moving out into society. So it's down with megaphone pedagogy, and let's hear two cheers for classroom democracy!Martin McMorrowAuckland, New Zealandmartinmcmorrow.podomatic.com