May 24th, 2010 at 7:15 am comment-page-1/#comment-45
A very interesting post – though a little too “left” for my liking.
Just for background – I teach EFL to elementary school kids in Taiwan, but I’ve taught elsewhere, including ESL in Australia (my home).
Here are some random thoughts which your article brought to my mind:
- GLBT doesn’t appear in school textbooks generally, let alone ESL ones, so you can’t single out individual publishers without targeting those that produce texts for other school subjects as well.
- I’m not convinced there is a place for discussing GLBT in elementary school. In fact, sex education is not offered in many places until later, let alone it’s various forms. You have to consider age appropriateness here.
- I doubt if religious schools or religious-based countries would buy such texts if GLBT or other “sensitive” subjects were included. Publishers are businesses – their motivation is making money, not ensuring the inclusion of every shade of viewpoint (though, admittedly, they play it safe in the centre).
- If you are going to include GLBT why stop there? What about different political and religious ideologies? What about indigenous perspectives and culture? What about texts on people with physical or mental disabilities? My point is that there is just not enough room in the curriculum to include everyone and everything. Perhaps some features on people doing some good in the world (e.g. helping the poor, raising environmental awareness, making breakthroughs in various fields) could counterbalance the movie and pop stars.
- I think what is more important than slavishly following celebrities or “cleaner than thou” models, is to ask (a) what do students NEED when they come to an English-speaking country or interact with English speakers, and (b) what is useful for them to learn.
As an aside, I would like to agree with Marisa about the selection of texts. I have had to teach in Australia using Headway and Cutting Edge, which was difficult because I didn’t always know the people they were talking about, why they were chosen, etc. I couldn’t relate it to my Australian lifestyle at all. Unfortunately, we are slow at developing our own alternatives that are packaged in such a way as to make them valuable to ESL schools.
Finally, at the end of the day, a good teacher will use a variety of resources (print, multi-media, on-line, their own experiences, etc) in assisting learners, and will not restrict themselves to just the text as their only source of content.
Thanks for reminding me of the need to bring critical analysis to my work in the classroom.
Posted May 24th, 2010 at 7:15am on http://vassilakis.edublogs.org/2010/05/23/are-elt-materials-purged-of-ideology/