A letter to the teachers of English: 79Language teacher education and training (3) [Archives:2005/828/Education]

March 28 2005

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,

I am not planning to discuss the English curriculum of the Faculties of Education in this letter, because such a discussion will have no relevance to you; moreover, several people, including me, have presented their viewpoints in several forums, journals and magazines arguing for a thorough revision of the English curriculum of the Faculties of Education for the benefit of the student teachers, but very little has happened in this regard.

I am going to discuss with you in this letter what, in the absence of a useful curriculum in the Faculties of Education and in spite of the not-so useful teacher education most of you have had, you can do to meet the challenges of your classrooms, how you can manage to bridge the gap between what you have learnt in the Faculties and what your classrooms expect from you.

As I have said several times in the past letters, a classroom is a miniature form of the society where the students come from; you can have the reflection of what you face in your society, positive as well as negative factors, in the class. For example, there are children of the have and the have-not and children of the literate and illiterate parents; different students have different social and cultural practices. At this point, it is important to realize the introduction of uniforms in schools, as it will help reduce the differences among the students. Even at this point sometimes we fail, as rich students make their clothes in costly cloth and poor ones in cheap cloth. As children spend only about 6 to 7 hours of their waking time in the school and the rest in the society, we cannot divorce them from the virtues and evils of their society.

As teachers, we should realize this and plan all our classroom activities in tune with what happens in the society. Some educationists suggest that teachers keep in constant touch with the parents of their students for creating a better understanding of them. I recently heard the Head of a good school in Sana'a say how difficult it has been to satisfy the parents of the students. She said that they want the school to install white boards, as the chalk dust is not good for their children's health. This shows how keen the parents are in what happens in the schools. But unfortunately, such parents are few in the case of government institutions where most of us teach. Even if we do not have contact with the parents, it is better if a teacher has enough knowledge about each of our students, what kind of home climate he/she has. For example, some of us set homework to our students irrespective of what home climate they have; I am aware that some of our students cannot afford to spend time for the homework, at least in the colleges, as they have to work all the available time to maintain their families. In such a situation, some of the class time can be used for the homework.

Similarly we have to modify our teaching strategies to suit our students; the materials we use should be closer to the society; the examples we use in the class should reflect the society; this link between our classrooms and the society will bring about a positive change in our students' minds and make English teaching a pleasurable experience both to us and them. A good teacher education programme will definitely prepare teachers for this challenge. Let's try to practise it. Good luck.

Yours fraternally,