By Rachid Sassi
By Rachid Sassi
Errachidia – Learning is not like acquisition (Krashen, 1980). Learning takes effort, in the sense that it occurs through formal and informal experiences, while acquisition is effortless because it takes place without even noticing that one is in the process of acquiring. Based on this information, it seems clear that acquisition is related to first language (L1), whereas learning is associated with learning a language in addition to the L1 (L2).
Hypothesizing that learning and acquisition are extremely different and that one might not manage to acquire a L2 unless some critical factors have been met, why do English as Foreign Language (EFL) teachers have the tendency to treat EFL students as if they are English acquirers and thus penalize them whenever they commit mistakes and errors? What makes the situation even worse is that during their preparatory stage, teachers are exposed to a dichotomy between learning and acquisition, yet a respectable amount of teachers do not manage to internalize the two paradigms mentioned above. Thus, what prevents teachers from learning to internalize newly acquired knowledge?
We are the victims of our perceptions and attitudes. The latter can affect our learning journey, and hence the process of internalizing the newly acquired knowledge (Semadeni, 2009). This justifies the contradiction between theoretical knowledge and practice, prevailing among a respectable amount of teachers. In other words, even though teachers are introduced to an ample amount of material on theoretical backgrounds about teaching-learning operations and other education-related fields, a respectable amount of them do not show consistency between what they have learnt and what they apply in the classroom.
Furthermore, there is a contradiction in teachers classroom practices whether in addressing the subjects’ content or in providing feedback to students’ performance. This phenomenon exists not only among elementary, secondary or high school teachers, but also among higher education teachers. For example, during my undergraduate studies in the English department, I remember quite clearly that some teachers treated us badly by uttering demotivating expressions such as “English Studies is difficult.” Similarly, I still remember my first session in the course of culture in which the teacher who was in charge of the subject reacted in a bad way to my pronunciation of the word “method”.
Another example is that, though elementary school teachers are exposed to large input on how to deal with students and keeping punishment as a last resort, many teachers chose punishment and sanction as the first solution. For instance, in the elementary school Zaouia Lkadima, in which I received my elementary education, most of the teachers, if not all of them, were using solid sticks and sticks made of electric wires as means to punish us. The worst thing is that they were punishing us excessively, using the fore-mentioned instruments. The finger of one of the pupils was broken due to receiving painful hits.
These examples demonstrate the fact that there is a strong gap between the idealistic perception of a teacher , constructed during the process of teacher preparation or during ongoing teacher professional development programs designed to quickly motivate professional growth in teachers. Accordingly, what can be done to overcome the gap between theory and practice and between previously acquired knowledge and perceptions and attitudes?
Linking the gap between theory and practice is not an easy task because it requires a lot of effort and resources. It is a difficult thing to do since human beings have the tendency to resist change, and providing that they have accepted the change, the previously referred to change cannot occur in humans in a short perid of time. The problem with Moroccan teacher education programs is that they tend to promote change and professional growth with minimum effort and resources, be it financial or human. Another limitation is that teacher learning times are top-down in their approach, and education decision-makers seldom encourage self-made teacher professional development activities such as action research, workshops, micro-teaching, and peer coaching, among others.
That is to say, educators and educational decision-makers specify the content of teacher learning times in advance. Teacher-learning practices lack the principles of adult learning developed by the theory of Andragogy, initiated by the scholar Knowles (1983). Some of the main principles of this theory are as follows: linking previously acquired input with newly learnt input, prioritizing urgent needs, promoting various learning styles, purposeful learning targeted to solves real problems, interactive learning, etc. these principles mentioned above are significant in that they advocate bottom-up engagement and boosting teachers’ motivational skills.
To recapitulate, it seems clear that teachers’ perceptions and attitudes hinder change and professional growth in the classroom. This results in a gap between the theoretical knowledge and classroom practices. Successful teacher-learning efforts should target teachers’ perceptions and attitudes throughout incorporating the principles of adult learning.
Edited by Beau Clark
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed