Monday, 8 November 2010


Teacher: 'So what do you notice about..?'

Audience attempts to notice something.

Teacher nods: 'Hmmm, that's an interesting comment [it obviously isn't], anything else you notice?'

Audience silence followed by more desperate attempts to notice something.

Teacher (with a 'helpful' voice): 'Take a look at the second stanza..?'

Audience still clueless, looks desperately at the two members of audience who have acquired secret knowledge of literary jargon in the hope they will blind tutor with said jargon.

Teacher: 'That's a good way of looking at there anything else..?

Member of audience: 'So, are you trying to get us to say..?'

Teacher: 'I'm not trying to get you to say anything, there's no right or wrong answer'

Audience gives up.

Teacher: 'Well perhaps if I tell you ...'

One member of audience realises that of course there IS a required ANSWER and that it's taken 17 people a whole agonising 15 minutes to be led to THE ANSWER, during which anyone who has contributed to the class discussion has made a rectumhole of themselves by muttering apparently irrelevant drivel.

90% of audience go home thinking what a wonderful teacher they've just experienced.

One member of audience (who at some time in the past opted for the red pill and dropped out of the matrix) realises that the class has been exposed to teacher-speak, and feels hugely patronised and rather depressed as a result.

And what can we learn from this story?

1. No matter what teachers say there is always a RIGHT ANSWER, i.e. the one they want you to say.

2. Until you say this answer, you're going to be WRONG.

3. To disguise the fact that there is a RIGHT ANSWER, and that the teacher knows that answer and is deliberately keeping that right answer from you, every time you say a WRONG ANSWER they will say things like 'yes, good try' and 'nearly' and 'I hadn't thought of that one' [they had, just thought it was stupid and irrelevant] and 'that's an interesting thought' and 'hmmm'.

4. If you hear any of the above phrases, you have been exposed to 'teacher-speak' and should immediately seek out a decontamination chamber, consume alcoholic beverage and exorcise yourself through some online ranting.


Sam said...

We did a schools workshop once - our first - and the "teacher-type" was really struggling with the HE kids. They kept going off on tangents and asking other unrelated questions, and showing very little interest in the "interesting" thing the "teacher-type" had chosen. Amusing and yet embarrasing watching her trying to drag them back on topic. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Am I right in assuming that the audience weren't kids but adults hoping to explore creative writing but being led by a holder of secrets unwilling to share them?

Honestly, I can't believe that people still behave this way and call it teaching then also call the audience experience learning.

If the 'teacher' response to the first audience response had been 'What made that bit stand out to you?' with a genuine smile and an encouraging hand that could have been the start of a whole different experience.

Big mamma frog said...

Yes Parasombra, it was adults.
To be fair to the tutor, it was supposed to be a more academically-focused workshop. But...still depressing. I assumed (wrongly) that as adults we would be equal partners in the learning process.

And also depressing because I was one of the few to notice (and object to) the method.

globeonmytable said...

A little tipple before the class might help.

Maybe drop the words 'Autonomous Education' into every written piece of work you do and see how long it takes before the tutor googles it or asks you what exactly it is?

Big mamma frog said...

Maybe I need to go back into the classroom to desensitise myself?