Monday, April 14, 2008

"I don't know, that I know", Setarcos

Children learn languages that they encounter in their socio-cultural context without formal instruction. This is not only true for their first language but also for a second/foreign language. They are capable of learning hundreds and sometimes thousands of words and expressions on their own. In a school-centered approach to language teaching this hidden vocabulary is usually ignored.
Ok, I know that Socrates said "I know, that I don't know", and you probably guessed that there's is no philosopher named Setarcos.
My point (as usual) is an attempt to lead teachers into a different perspective. For one, teachers often don't know that they don't know about children's real learning capacities or their hidden knowledge. And secondly, students often don't know that they know already a lot more than what they think they know having adopted a school-centered perspective which they hadn't when they were younger.
We all have met one or the other child aged 4 or 5 saying: I speak English! (or any other language which is not one of his mother tongues) listen: "My name is Ben." And when you ask: Great! What else can you say in English? he replies: "Nothing, that's all."
And for sure, have we met children and adults saying : "I don't speak English."
But if we take one or two hours to investigate on the matter, we soon find out that they underestimated their knowledge and that because of schooling they are convinced "that they are not members of the literacy club" as Frank Smith calls it.
I tried to find out more about my daughter's "hidden vocabulary" as I would like to call this language knowledge which is ignored in formal language instruction. If you're interested read my transcript of our short investigation check this link http://en.olefaschool.org/courses/hiddenvocabulary . I working on designing an approach to language teaching that would built upon this "hidden vocabulary" (at least during the first weeks of a course), which every student brings to school. It's not finished yet, and I am open to suggestions and to questions of course.

5 comments:

  1. Mir sin averstan mat der Ausso dass Schüler a Studenten oft denken vill manner ze wessen wei dat wat se wierklech wessen, wat eiser Meenung no och deelweis um letzebuerger Schoulsystem lait an dem een ze dachs mat der Nues op d Feeler gestouss get anstatt dass een op dat higewise get wat een kann. Dachs wann een en Text liest, faalen engem dei Wieder an d Aen dei een net versteet an et seet een seier dass een den Text net verstan huet, amplaatz sech un dem festzehaalen wat een vum Text versteet an doduerch Senn ze konstrueieren. Wouhir kennt dat? Ma och dat as ganz einfach: mir gin an der Schoul geleiert dei Wieder aus engem Text ze ennerstraichen dei mir net verstin an dei dann am Dictionnaire nozesichen oder se zesummen ze sichen an se dann als Vokabelen ze leieren. D Wieder gin soumat aus hirem Kontext rausgeholl anstatt dass een probeieret se an hirem kontext ze interpreteiert duerch Sennverständnis. Dachs ennerschätzen mir eis selwer an eise sproochleche Fähegkeeten well mer mengen et misst emmer all Wuert ganz korrekt gesot gin an enger friemer Sprooch dobai kenne mir eis och ausdrecken wann mol dat eent oder aanert Wuert net ganz richteg konjugeiert gin as oder falsch ausgeschwat gin as. Souguer wann een nemen e puer Saachen kennt, kann een sech domat ausdrecken, well all besse Wessen as wertvoll. Dat soll een och berücksechtegen wann een Schoul hällt a Kanner scho Wieder a frieme Sprooche kenne soen. Et soll een sech domat beschäftegen wat d Kanner vun Ressource matbrengen an domadder schaffen, wat bedeit dass een an all Klass anzwouch aanescht ufänkt mat schaffen. Wann een dat uerdentlech hikritt an d Kanner an de Mettelpunkt vum Interesse stellt , da get aus dem Saatz "I don't know, that I know" "I know THAT/WHAT I know"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ech denken, dass daat eng flott Approche fier d'Englescht kéint sin wann een all Kand géing doën en Songtext matt ze bréngen op Englesch an dann dem Julia seng Method vum liesen, iwwersetzen, mémoriséieren ze applizéieren.

    Vu dass d'Kanner jo kennen den Text vun hierem Lieblingslidd matbréngen huet desen jo eng méi déif Bedeitung fier sie an d'Interesse dierft schon elléng doduerch méi grouss sin wéi un engem Standardexercice.

    Och déi intrinsech Motivatioun ass wesentlech méi héich an brauch doduerch nët esou stark oder guer nët (wéi d'Beispill Julia et beweist) vun extrinsecher Motivatioun ënnerstëtzt ze gin. Déi hierersäits jo ëmmer den Risiko biergt déi intrinsesch komplett ze verdrängen.

    Ech denken, dass daat do immens spannend kéint sin fier emol an der Praxis ze testen...d'Théorie kléngt jo mol schon gudd... :-)

    Matt beschten Gréiss

    Ben

    ReplyDelete
  3. Marylène, Cindy & Sonia (uni.lu)April 22, 2008 at 9:16 AM

    We totally agree that everyone has a hidden vocabulary, and that many pupils underestimate their abilities. For instance, many children think that they are able to write in a certain language, but they aren't confident enough to speak it.
    Furthermore we have a suggestion how to use this hidden vocabulary for language learning in school. Perhaps we could create a kind of WIKI-project where the pupils can upload the words they know and explain them. This project could be carried on during their whole career in school. It would be helpful if every child had its own project, but if possible, the teacher should have the possibility to merge the different projects of his pupils.
    Are there any practical techniques on how we could plan and perform such a project or how we could inspire the children to work seriously on their WIKIS

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ech denken, dass déi Art a Weis fier iwwert englesch Songtexter unzefänken deen "hidden vocabulary" ze aktivéieren an sou en Wee zum Engleschen ze fannen eng immens flott Approche wär.

    Et kéint een déi Jonk jo doën fier den 1. Cours d'Lyrics vun hierem Lieblingssong mat ze bréngen an dann jhidfereen säin analyséieren ze loossen. Dobäi sin dann wuel en Koup wieder déi se schon kennen (H.V.) an déi aaner kennen sie jo nosichen. Dësen Text huet jo fier all eenzelnen eng speziell méi déif Bedeitung an (sie hun en jo selwer eraus gesicht) an doduerch existéiert eng relativ grous intrinsesch Motivatioun déi quasi kengen extrinseschen Ureizer bedarf. Dest ass besonnesch interessant well jo zevill sou Ureizer déi intrensesch Motivatioun komplett kennen zerstéieren.

    Wann een déi ganz Recherchen lo nach matt deenen Jonken um Computer mëcht, sou kënnt nach den Ureiz dobäi vun hierem "Lieblingsmedium" an d'Motivatioun déi Sprooch ze léieren, respektiv ze entdecken, dass sie se schon zu Deel beherrschen, dierft riiseg sin.

    An der Théorie kléngt daat ganzt also ganz villverspriechend...lo wär et flott dëst an der Praxis auszeprobéieren...

    Matt beschten Gréiss

    Ben

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kennt dir eis soen, wei een op den individuellen Basisvokabulair vun den Kanner kann opbauen, vue que, dass all Kand en aneren Vokabulair huet, aner Interessen,...an een schlussendlech awer op en Punkt muss kommen, wou all Kand en geimeinsamen formalen Vokabulair huet?

    Sandra, Carmen an Kim

    ReplyDelete

Some Reading Milestones

  • Towards reflexive method in archaeology : the example at Çatalhöyük (edited by Ian Hodder) 2000

  • The Book of Learning and Forgetting (Frank Smith) 1998

  • Points of Viewing Children's Thinking: A Digital Ethnographer's Journey (Ricki Goldman-Segall) 1997

  • Verstehen lehren (Martin Wagenschein) 1997

  • Computer im Schreibatelier (Gérard Gretsch) 1992

  • The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter. Uses of Storytelling in the Classroom (Vivian Gussin Paley) 1991

  • La cause des adolescents (Françoise Dolto) 1988

  • Scuola di Barbiana. Die Schülerschule. Brief an eine Lehrerin. (Edition of 1980) / read in German 1982
    Letter to Teacher by the Schoolboys of Barbiana (1970)
    Lettre à une maîtresse de'école, par les enfants de Barbiana (1968)
    Lettera à una professoressa (Original Edition) 1967


  • Vers une pédagogie institutionnelle (Aïda Vasquez, Fernand Oury) 1967



Documentary Films on Education

  • Eine Schule, die gelingt (by Reinhard Kahl) 2008

  • Les temps des enfants (Jacques Duez) 2007

  • Klassenleben (by Bernd Friedmann und Hubertus Siegert) 2006

  • Lernen - Die Entdeckung des Selbstverständlichen
    (Ein Vortrag von Manfred Spitzer) 2006

  • Die Entdeckung der frühen Jahre
    Die Initiative "McKinsey bildet" zur frühkindlichen Bildung (by Reinhard Kahl) 2006

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft - Wie in Deutschland Schulen gelingen (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft / Incubators of the future / Les serres de l'avenir; International Edition (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Journal de classe, 1ères audaces (1), Les échappés (2), Sexe, amour et vidéo (3), L'enfant nomade (4), Remue-méninges (5) (by Wilbur Leguebe, Jacques Duez, Agnès Lejeune) 2004

  • Spitze - Schulen am Wendekreis der Pädagogik (by Reinhard Kahl) 2003

  • Journal de classe, (by Wilbur Leguebe and Agnès Lejeune; Jacques Duez) 2002

  • Etre et Avoir (by Nicolas Philibert) 2002

  • The Stolen Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2002

  • The Angry Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2001

  • A l'école de la providence (by Gérard Preszow) 2000

  • Blue-Eyed (by Jane Elliott) 1996

  • A Class Divided (by Jane Elliott) 1984

  • Eye of The Storm (with Jane Elliott) 1970

Past quotes of the day

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong. Henry Louis Mencken

Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.
Antonio Machado

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Immanuel Kant

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. Albert Einstein

To paraphrase a famous quotation, all that is necessary for the triumph of damaging educational policies is that good educators keep silent. Alfie Kohn

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers. Now, with the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven't thought up the questions. Peter Ustinov

I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers. Woody Allen

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep. W. H. Auden

When I was an inspector of schools I visited one classroom and looked at a boys book. He'd written, 'Yesterday, Yesterday, Yesterday, Sorrow, Sorrow, Sorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Love, Love, Love.' I said, 'That's a lovely poem.' He said, 'Those are my spelling corrections.' Gervase Phinn

Real thinking never starts until the learner fails. Roger Schank

If what is wanted is a reexamination of schooling in terms of purpose, structure and process, then testing programmes are the wrong vehicle (...) Caroline V. Gipps

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Albert Einstein

Act always so as to increase the number of choices. Heinz von Foerster

Another way of avoiding teaching is by relying exclusively on a textbook, workbooks, and other commercially packaged learning materials. Teaching is reduced to administering a set curriculum without giving any thought to the substance of what the students area learning or to their particular needs. H. Kohl

The right to ignore anything that doesn't make sense is a crucial element of any child's learning - and the first right children are likely to lose when they get to the controlled learning environment of school. F. Smith

Learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity. - Ivan Illich

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. - Roger Lewin

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

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