Concerned and worried about the huge drop in registrations in a failing/failed Greek economy, reducing the number of compulsory coursebooks, workbooks and the like, is beginning to be a consideration for some foreign language school owners locally.
The parents of younger pupils can no longer afford the high cost of books – many are hard pressed to even pay tuition fees and have stopped sending their children to private language centres, contenting themselves with the lessons provided freely in the Greek state school.
In view of unemployment and of many families finding it hard to cover even their basic needs, it seems that some parents have really started to protest very seriously.
Too many books
On August 26, 2009 and earlier on my Greek blog, I published a post (one of my first, in fact) with the title ‘How many books to teach a six year old?”
If you click on that link, you will find out that, unfortunately, it doesn’t involve just one or two … .
Student’s Book – Grammar Book – Activity Book and Workbook – Video Book – Companion – Audio Book – Listening Book – eBook
This is the standard menu – even the internet needs a book!
And parents never uttered a single murmur!!!!!!
Is it the publishers’ fault?
I think it is, to a certain extent. Pandering to a book hungry market does not commend an educational publisher for educational decisions. Just like pandering to a test hungry market does not commend a testing organisation for testing very young learners…. either…
It’s time to stop publishers from indulging the market with an this excessive and unnecessary use of multiple books where one would be more than enough.
Most of them are filled with boring mechanistic exercises anyway – to keep the teachers busy (lest they should have a few minutes left over and get lazy…keep ’em busy busy!!!!), and younger students busy at home with various meaningless exercises, lest they should have some free time for play .
One book or none at all!
I think it’s time that owners/managers/DOS’es trusted their teachers and believed that they can teach with just one coursebook or, in some cases, with no coursebook at all!
I am certain that the quality of teaching will improve hugely, without the anxiety of having to cover all these countless pages and without the pressure of having to ‘to get on with the unit’.
In the case of certain franchises, whose name shall not be revealed (unless you twist my arm), all the centres must be moving in total synchronicity and be on page X on the same day!!!
Isn’t that absolutely incredible to an educator in their right senses?
Trust in Teachers
If school managers don’t trust their teachers to do a good job, it’s their fault for hiring untrained teachers who, after 10 or 15 years of teaching have not developed the skills of pedagogy and design a CELTA graduate can master in only four weeks!
This mentality has created a generation of teachers totally dependent on coursebooks and all their paraphernalia, as well as teachers who are indifferent , complacent and who expect everything to be provided by the coursebook either because they do not know how to create their own material/activities or because, even if they do know, they are not allowed!
I personally believe it is too late to ask these teachers to be trained now – since the very same managers discouraged them from attending courses or workshops “because none of this stuff actually works in class’, or ‘our students won’t be able to participate”, etc.
Well-trained teachers report being unable to apply what they learn in their training courses “because if you do all these activities, when will you be able to get through all these books that we have asked the parents to buy? ‘
A vicious circle of poor pedagogy which wishes good educators to perform at their worst.
I find the reaction of parents great – even if it’s for the wrong reasons.
But the decision to reduce the number of coursebooks will not be made for the right reasons by the schools either.
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About the Author
Marisa Constantinides is a teacher, teacher trainer and author; she is the Director of CELT Athens, a Teacher Development Centre offering courses in TEFL. Marisa has worked with teachers in the private and state sector for many years and is an RSA Diploma holder (DTEFLA) herself; she also holds an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Reading. Find out more about Marisa here.