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17547Dickens, education and ever present world educational, social, political and economic crises

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  • Dennis Newson
    Oct 21, 2013
      [A copy of a message posted to GISIG's Yahoogroup discussion list.

      To post a message:  gisig@yahoogroups.com


      Here is the link to a recording of Luke's Sunday GISIG  webinar:



      I was thrilled by Luke's presentation,  including the fact that, despite technical imperfections, it was done in the generous format of a free, open event to those of us lucky to have comfortable access to the internet - an excellent example of international, world-wide sharing facilitated by technology -  appropriate to a SIG dedicated to the discussion of global issues.

      What came across to me in Luke's excellently structured, impressively performed presentation [ the teacher, teacher-educator  as broadcaster, 
      actor ] was the central relevance and enduring importance in  thinking about education - to those TEFL practitioners  who despite a professional interest in prepositions and tenses rightly see themselves as educators in the wider sense - of the contribution of  "literature" - the formulation and articulation of the thoughts of those gifted individuals, creative writers of fiction, the best of whom are characterized by having an insatiable interest in and instinctive understanding of and sympathy for   human beings and their feelings and motivation as individuals set in societal, economic and political surroundings and the wordsmith's craft , genius to share their descriptions, insights and thoughts with the willing, open-minded reader.

      What worries me as always is that, at the end of the day, even enlightened, motivated, creative, passionate, devoted teachers with a humanistic view of the nature, purpose, role and appropriate approaches of teaching, of facilitating and scaffolding learning,  is that they are so frequently frustrated in their efforts by being, as teachers, too far down and powerless  in the hierarchies of the societies and cultures in which they live and work  to be able to carry through their plans and visions.

      So what can we do in the varied but so often similar circumstances  of frustration and feelings of helplessness that most of us know or have known in our professional lives?  

      Seriously, I think belonging to an association like IATEFL or a sub-group, a SIG  like GISIG is a good place to be. In associations like IATEFL and its SIGs and their lists we have a marvelous resource, so often overlooked: the members, we ourselves, scattered around the globe but interested enough in our profession, like-minded enough,  to have become a member of IATEFL, this SIG or this discussion list.

      To repeat the 64,000 dollar question: What can we do?

      Of course there is no single, simple answer - quite possibly no totally satisfactory answer at all.  But despair and capitulation, defeatism, is positively not a response to be supported. 

       I remain convinced convinced that, especially if we could come to see "discussion lists" less as  forums for academically discussing  pedagogical principles, theories of learning, the relevance or otherwise of grammar teaching - and instead see such communities of individuals geographically separated but electronically linked as a chance to grasp eagerly with both hands, the opportunity  to get together and work together to give support to each other, sharing accounts of success and pleas for assistance and co-cooperatively working on small projects and on initiatives that arise out of our real needs as practising teachers and teacher educators.

      What do you all think?  

      Dennis Newson
      Formerly : University of Osnabrueck, GERMANY

      Committee member : IATEFL YLTSIG

      Network Coordinator  IATEFL:YLTSIG Teens (T)

      Committee Member : IATEFL GISIG: Social  networking

      Founder: Osna Group Second Life

      Initiator:  MCC - Machinima Creative Club  Second Life

      Winner British Council ELT 05 Team Innovation Award

      Personal homepage 

       Skype: Osnacantab
      Second Life: Osnacantab Nesterov

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