I had an eye-opening conversation several years ago, as I was learning Italian at the fabulous America-Italy Society of Philadelphia with my Italian teacher. We were having a conversation about the structure of courses and so on, and I carry one of these insights with me to this day as it has become one of my philosophies about facilitating and learning in general. Here is a draft as I create visuals to go with my philosophy:
Traditionally we start in what we believe to be a simple version of the beginning and then work our way ‘up’ by chunking the information into pieces. We teach our students vocabulary first, then sentence structure, then grammar and so on, attempting to be solid in each category before moving on to the next. We’re building blocks.
In order to teach adults language, we change the process a bit. So, rather than building blocks, think of a pie where each piece is a category. Some of these categories may still be vocabulary, grammar and so on, as well as concept categories. An example of a concept category is transportation. In this category one might cover vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure while including contexts such as culture simultaneously.
Imagine a swirl that begins in the center of this pie representing wherever you are in your own learning process and then moving in and out of different categories rather quickly. This allows each to learn in life context rather than by each prescribed-simplified-out-of-context chunk.
Does this make sense to you? What do you think? What if we taught our kids this way too? What might happen?
To experience my philosophy in action, check out the upcoming one-day workshop DRAW IT OUT, again! on March 22, 2014 at the NY Peace Institute! Mention this blog post for a $25 discount! Deadline to register is coming up Friday, March 7! Reach out if you have questions! Details: