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Task Discussion

  • Espen Stranger-Johannessen   June 19, 2011, 8:57 a.m.

    I've read the chapter twice, still I'm not quite sure how to respond to it. What comes to mind is my experience with learning Hindi. I recently spent a month in New Delhi, and decided to learn the language by hiring a student from a nearby university as a tutor. A dozen students responded to my request, and I started "trying them out". I was generally not very happy with either of them, but eventually settled with two–tree, and ended up with one the last week. I thought that as a language teacher myself I should be able to stear the direction of the class and sort of be my of teacher, but it didn't really work very well. What was lacking, I felt, was a proper textbook (I had several "Teach Yourself Hindi", but not apt for a class, I felt), and a sort of progress – building up grammar and vocabulary step by step. Also, I might add, a teacher's sense of making simple conversation or monologue in the target language.

    A few years ago I studied French, German and Spanish, for one/two months, in different language schools. I absolutely loved it, and felt that I learned a lot. There was no textbook, but since these languages are much easier for me than Hindi, there was less of a need. I've also studied Persian in a similar way, with a textbook. What is striking is the the feeling that in the "schooled" setting, with or without a textbook, but with a teacher capable of taking control, leading the way, I felt that I learned a lot, it "worked". Without this "schooled" aspect, and in spite of the fact that I'm now an experienced language teacher and language learner, I felt that the "unschooled" DIY approach didn't really work.

    This brings me to the bounderies of "school", or should I say – what is "school" in Illich's sense of the word. Would the private/university-run language courses I took qualify as "school", or are they too detached from the system of grades, evaluations, state curriculum etc.? And my own Hindi tutors, were they completely "unschooled" – or did the self-imposed structure make it resemble regular schooling?

  • Maria Droujkova   June 19, 2011, 3:56 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Espen Stranger-Johannessen   June 19, 2011, 8:57 a.m.

    The question about boundaries of "school" is an excellent prompt!

    In the situation you describe, I am thinking about technologies for achieving flow in learning.

    These technologies can frequently be found at schools, just like technologies for making mechanisms depending on internal combustion can be frequently found at car factories.

    But I think the technologies are separate and separable from, say, administration of schools.