When I was 14 years old the adults put me in a biology classroom.
I hated it.
But one week, our teacher, Mr. Beetly announced we were going to dissect dead rats.
(traslation: cut up and take apart)
Now biology was interesting.
And my dissection partner was going to be Liz Schumacher, one of the cutest girls in the ninth grade.
Now biology was very interesting!
Every day Liz and I cut up the rat, we removed pieces of the rat, and we learned the names for the pieces.
I really loved that dead rat; he taught me so much about anatomy, myself, life, death…
Liz, on the other hand, didn’t find rats so romantic.
15 Years Later
I flew in to Prague on a Saturday.
After a weekend of sightseeing, I was siting in a classroom learning how to be an English teacher.
And suddenly, it was the story of the dead rat all over again.
They gave us the language.
We cut it up.
We learned the names of the pieces.
And then we taught students how to do the same.
But this time, there was a final step:
Put the pieces back into the rat and tell the rat to jump off the table and run back to the sewar.
In other words, our students had to use the language; they had to speak; and they had to speak fluently.
Well, that usually didn’t work so well
English Should Not Be Taught In Schools
The problem starts in school.
You have a math class and a history class and a science class.
You learn facts which help you pass tests.
And then you go to English class.
And you use the same methods: you learn facts which help you pass tests.
But there’s a differnce between biology and English.
Biology is a subject.
And English is a skill.
You become successful at biology when you study and pass tests.
You become successful at English when you can speak.
Those are two different goals.
The methods should also be different.
I say, instead of studying English, kids should DO English.
When I was in school we studied math and science and histroy during school hours.
Then after school, we did activities, like sports or music.
Now imagine this:
What if instead of dissecting English for years in a boring, stressful classroom…
Where kids learn bad habits, learn to pass tests, and sometimes learn to hate English…
Instead, kids spent those years doing English after school?
Speaking, listening, reading, having fun…
If you had done that when you were a kid, where would your English be today?