By Radouane Belkhadir
By Radouane Belkhadir
Rabat – Teaching is highly interactive, and successful practitioners rely largely on interaction in the classroom. Traditionally, however, interaction was unidirectional; that is, the teacher was the sole source of knowledge and that knowledge was spoon-fed to students. However, thanks to innovative approaches and methods of learning, interaction has recently regained its due importance as the ingredient that scholars think could spice up our teaching. Is there only one type of interaction or is it multi-dimensional? How can our teaching take advantage of interaction? Are there any hindrances to its implementation?
As a matter of fact, there are different types of interaction in the classroom. The traditional teacher-to-student interaction still prevails, whether we want it or not, even with innovative teachers who tend to make their teaching learner-centered to a great extent. In other words, the teaching process unavoidably makes the teacher the one who gives instructions and asks most of the questions in the classroom.
Teacher-to-student interaction, though prevalent, is by no means the only kind of interaction. Student-to-teacher interaction is another important part of the classroom process.
Interaction between students is no less important, providing students with a way to practice newly-introduced items in a lively and motivating manner. Students view pair practicing as a constraint-free activity, one outside the control of the teacher. They feel as if they are in a real environment, which raises their motivation, self-confidence, and self-esteem. This type of interaction can motivate even the least motivated students as long as they find it easy to be engaged in a lesson when assisted by their peers.
Interaction in the classroom can slow down for many reasons. Too many students make the task of implementing such a process a difficult one. How can interaction work in a class of 50 students? What makes things worse is the students’ reluctance to get involved in the process of the lesson for many possible reasons. The most obvious reason is a negative attitude toward learning English, which many students bring with them to the classroom and which the teacher must help them change if he wants learning to take place. In addition, Moroccan students hold views about learning in general which favor submissiveness and subjective ways of learning, since throughout their school life they have been considered mere recipients of knowledge rather than active participants in the teaching–learning process. These factors and others make the task of the teacher much harder, if not impossible.
Despite these difficulties, I am not inviting teachers to keep their arms crossed and curse the darkness. A lot can be done if the teachers’ will is strong and if they believe in their paramount role in making teaching an enjoyable and fruitful task. Of similar importance is the engagement of policy makers. They are kindly invited to invest more money in the sector, not money to go into teachers’ pockets, though that is important, but money to be spent on building more classrooms, hiring more teachers and returning to split-hour classes that are the only way to implement interaction in the classroom. Every penny spent on teaching can be recouped in the future if we arm our students with solid knowledge.
Edited by Esther Bedik
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