Teacher Diaries: Mr. Luke – Teaching Philosophy
I am passionately dedicated to finding new and innovative ways of engaging children in learning, primarily by treating them as co-creators of knowledge rather than as empty vessels in which facts and information are deposited, only to then be spent on examinations and never used again. In this way, I draw strongly from the critical pedagogy of the Brazilian educational theorist Paulo Freire (1921-1997), who saw learning as a dialogic process in which discussion, debate and creative collaboration are of vital importance. These elements of education are especially crucial to English language teaching, as learners will always find it difficult to progress unless they are given the opportunity to put their speaking skills to the test on a regular basis. Where many teachers fail is in their tendency to assume a ‘tick-the- boxes’ approach to English teaching, according to which students are required to slavishly complete one textbook exercise after another without any kind of classroom interaction. Contrary to this approach, I strive to involve my students in role plays, drama activities and debates, so that they become active rather than passive users of English. In this way, I find that it is considerably easier to build on the knowledge that the students already possess, all the while developing their capacity for critical thinking.
In addition, I am a huge advocate of using ICT tools in order to enhance my students’ creative capacities and problem solving abilities when learning English. In 2016, I conducted an electronic tablet-based research project in Ethiopia in order to examine the effectiveness of mobile technology in improving the quality of English teaching in Ethiopian schools. The results of my project demonstrated that the visual, interactive elements of such technology can help to stimulate engagement with the English language in ways that traditional methods of instruction cannot, as my students were able to absorb more information through the experiential style of learning that the tablets offered them. These findings will no doubt influence my style of teaching at i-Learner, as I will attempt to make use of ICT in as many classes as I can.