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You know those moments when the teacher says something like:
And now for something completely different....
My hypothesis, which I am going to have the kids test on our
next classroom observation project, is that these moments occur much
less frequently (if at all) in "dogme" classes (and by extension in
classes where the stress is on TEACHER-SOMEBODY and SOMEBODY-SOMEBODY
interaction rather than TEACHER-EVERYBODY interaction).
In the past year on this list, we have given a rather
disproportionate amount of energy to the criticism of materials and
pedagogical materialism. Well, not disproportionate, considering what
we are up against, but disproportionate considering all the other
ideas that are implicit in Scott's initial article.
One I would like to develop is his criticism of "grammar
McNuggets". I think implicit in this is the idea that the smallest
teachable unit of language is NOT a sample sentence, but a unit of
discourse, that is, an exchange between two human beings. This is the
elusive "teach-eme" that Fanselow was looking for; it's in this that
you find all the properties of language that we obfuscate with terms
like "natural", "real", and "authentic communiction".
But does discourse come in McNuggets? Or are the units simply
artefacts of description? Or are they something in between,
like "species"? I mean, species do exist, but only after the fact of
evolution. Nature does not ever say "And now for something completely