Barbara Sawhill gave an engaging two-hour interactive talk last Friday to TESOL/TFL students on the importance of renouncing a “multi-paged, intricately detailed, iron-clad syllabus” and replacing it with a student-centered, participatory class outline with collaborated class goals between the students and teacher. Barbara teaches Spanish at Oberlin College and is the Director of the Cooper International Language Center.
Barbara renounces the old Factory Model of Education, which in her opinion lacks a context for students’ learning. This “Fordist” classoom is out of touch with the world around it and sees students as empty vessels who simply absorb and memorize, rather than experience and create.
As an educator, Barbara sees her job as “making this experience [in the classroom] as meaningful for you [the student] as possible”. She insists that as educators, we need to listen and model for students what we expect of them. As learners, we don’t need to simply find all of the answers, but learn how to create “really well-rounded, thoughtful questions”.
Four questions that Barbara asks her students at the beginning of each term are:
How do you learn?
Why are you here?
What do you want to learn?
How can we help you get there?
You can check out her work and ideas at http://languages.oberlin.edu/lab-info/center-staff/ and http://languagelabunleashed.org/ and typical posts like http://languagelabunleashed.org/2010/03/15/the-backwards-syllabus/ Barbara introduces herself at http://vimeo.com/19050537 .You can read about her Spanish class at http://languages.oberlin.edu/courses/2010/spring/hisp205/ and http://languagelabunleashed.org/tag/hisp205/
Marciel Santos will be the next speaker this Spring, He will be talking on April 14 from 3-5 pm. Stay aware of fliers around campus for more information!