I may write more about a current problem in education. I have noticed it particularly with my level 2 students. There seems to be a wide gap in students. I am sure if this has always existed, but it is there. There are students who do extremely well and know how to study. Then there are students who do very poorly because of the choices that they make. I want to emphasize the fact that there is really not intellectual difference between the two groups. The so called “bad” students are actually really intelligent. And visa versa there are those that appear to be “good” students, but they are actually not as intelligent.
It has to do with what I have labeled as “the system.” Students know all about it and I think that most teachers do, too. It means that students know how to win the game of school without learning anything. It is basically, good business skills. They know which assignments count for points and they make sure that they put a lot of effort into those assignments. But it doesn’t really matter if they learn anything or if they remember anything after the assessment. They just do what they have to do.
I knew about the system when I was in school and I knew that if I did certain things, that my grade would reflect better than what I actually knew. Conversely, I would actually know the material and then not do as well on multiple choice tests and that was very frustrating for me .
The “system” as well as other factors have created a gap in education. The students who do not do as well are given more worksheets and exercises to do, which makes them fall further behind in language learning. They eventually drop out of a language because they fail over and over.
I think that there is a big problem here. First of all, there are two sides to this, and nobody is taking responsibility. Students need to put forth effort, but the teacher also has to make it worth putting effort toward. Times have changed in education and students will choose to fail if they don’t want to do something. The 4%ers, on the other hand, have been receiving training and support from home, so they will do well at just about anything in school.
The bottom line is that we need to reach the so called “poor” students. If we do not, then school will continue to be what it is, it praises the good students and shuns the poor students. In The Power of Reading, Krashen quotes Schoolboys of Barbiana 1970 saying,
At times the temptation to get rid of them [the children of the poor] is strong. But if we lose them, school is no longer school. it is a hospital that tends to the healthy and rejects the sick. It becomes just a place to strengthen the existing differences to the point of no return.
This quote really says it all and I feel that TPRS as well as FVR helps students to learn a language outside of the system. In FVR they are choosing items to read at their leisure while acquiring the language. In TPRS they are getting personalized repetions of the target language. It is not worksheets and text book activities, but actually interacting with the students on a personal level. What more could lead to acquisition of a language?