While reading on in the new book mentioned in a previous post, I came across another quote that reminded me of a conversation I had a number of months ago with a member of staff in one of Dublin’s teacher training colleges.
“Teaching approaches can also be fashionable. You need to use your judgement in selecting methods, so you don’t dismiss a useful approach that is not in vogue, or embrace another approach unquestioningly just because it’s new.” (Delaney 2017, p. 59)
The conversation I had was quite short and casual and took place while I was filling a cup with tea. We discussed the evidence-based approach to teaching and why just because something is new, that in itself does not make it worthwhile. My thoughts directed themselves towards the new Languages Curriculum being introduced across Ireland’s primary schools. At this stage, all schools would have received their first inservice day (effectively a PowerPoint presentation from within each school last year). Many schools have already undertaken and a lot are due to undertake the second round of inservice this year.
I have not yet had a chance to attend the second round of inservice but I have heard from many teachers who have. The feedback is not positive. This new curriculum has been described by fellow teachers as little more than an assessment checklist. In other words – heavy on paperwork. I have yet to hear any positive feedback. I’m not yet in a position to provide my own fully-informed critique as I will have to wait until later this month to attend the second inservice.
I think it’s important for all teachers to keep an open mind. That said, I also believe that teachers should not hesitate to question anything that they do not agree with. If the general feeling among teachers is that the new Languages Curriculum becomes a hindrance to real teaching, through an over-emphasis on unnecessary paperwork, teachers should be listened to and their views respected. I’ll be posting a response to the second inservice before the end of the month, when I have had the chance to attend it. Keeping quiet about opposition to what could be considered an unhelpful fad in education will ultimately be to the detriment of the main stakeholders – pupils and teachers. Everyone’s voice should be heard.