Teacher’s role and learner’s role in postmethod era

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1. Running head: TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 1 Teacher’s Role and Learner’s Role in Postmethod Era Mahdie Ghanbari Islamic Azad University…

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  • 1. Running head: TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 1 Teacher’s Role and Learner’s Role in Postmethod Era Mahdie Ghanbari Islamic Azad University Central Tehran Branch By Dr. Nosratinia
  • 2. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 2 Table of Contents Abstract ............................................................................................................................... 3 Teacher’s Role and Learner’s Role in Postmethod Era ...................................................... 4 Review of literature............................................................................................................. 4 conclusion ..................................................................................................................... 12 References......................................................................................................................... 14
  • 3. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 3 Abstract The aim of this investigation is to explore the role of teachers and learners in postmethod era. At first, researcher gives a general scope about the method. According to Douglas Brown (2002, p. 9), “a method is a set of theoretically unified classroom techniques thought to be generalizable across a wide variety of contexts and audiences.” At first, we had method era that it was included center and periphery. Center produced knowledge based theories and periphery included teachers and learners who followed center and They were not autonomous. According to Prabhu, (1990), there is no best method because: (a) different methods are best for different teaching contexts, (b) all methods are partially true or valid, and (c) the notion of good and bad methods is itself misguided. Then, the concept of Eclecticism was introduced. It means that choosing the best part of each method and putting them together which has two important problems: (1) this combination is a new method, and (2) lacking proper criteria for choosing the best part of each method. The era of method is finished and now we have postmethod era. postmethod can be defined as the construction of classroom procedures and principles by the teacher himself/herself based on his/her prior and experiential knowledge and/or certain strategies. The post-method teacher and learner are autonomous. We elaborated the role of teacher and learner in this paper. Keywords: Learners, Teachers, Post-method era
  • 4. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 4 Teacher’s Role and Learner’s Role in Postmethod Era After so called death of the method concept in 1991, the postmethod term came to be used widely in the discourse of language teaching researchers and practitioners. Kumaravadivelu (1994) was among the first who questioned the quest for the best method arguing that method concept limited teachers and learners and consequently prevented them from achieving their full potentiality. In addition, he argued that methods abandoned learners and teachers’ creativity through prescribing a set of techniques to be used by teachers without full understanding on the part of its users. Postmethod was presented as an alternative to method not alternative method. The present paper strives to examine the role of teachers and learners in postmethod era. In this respect researcher at first explain about method. Then post-method will be elaborated. In addition, the role of teacher and learners in this era will be explained. Review of literature It is important to have a clear understanding of the distinction between the concept of method and post-method. According to Douglas Brown (2002, p. 9), “a method is a set of theoretically unified classroom techniques thought to be generalizable across a wide variety of contexts and audiences.” In his view, methods are prescriptive, overgeneralized and developed a priori in terms of place of implementation and actors involved in it. He adds that a method is quite distinct at the beginning of a course but it becomes less clear as such a course progresses. As a reaction to this notion of method, the author proposes a principled approach in which teachers‟ classroom techniques are grounded on their context and well-established principles of language teaching and learning beyond a particular, prepackaged method. From a distinctively critical pedagogy lens, Kumaravadivelu (2003) defines methods as colonial constructs conceptualized by theorists, not methods actualized by teachers in their
  • 5. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 5 everyday practices. As a sign of growth and challenge, he views post-method as a postcolonial construct which is bottom-up and comes to place context, teachers, and the observed curriculum in a relevant place away from marginalization. More recently, Richards (2013, p. 18) offers a definition of post-method in post-method teaching: This term is sometimes used to refer to teaching which is not based on the prescriptions and procedures of a particular method nor which follows a predetermined syllabus but which draws on the teacher’s individual conceptualizations of language, language learning and teaching, the practical knowledge and skills teachers develop from training and experience, the teacher’s knowledge of the learners‟ needs, interests and learning styles, as well as the teacher’s understanding of the teaching context (Kumaravadivelu, 1994). The teacher’s „method‟ is constructed from these sources rather than being an application of an external set of principles and practices. The kinds of content and activities that the teacher employs in the classroom as well as the outcomes he or she seeks to achieve will depend upon the nature of the core principles that serve as the basis for the teacher’s thinking and decision-making. The demise of method is consistent with the widely held view that we are now in a 'post-method' era. Thus, as long ago as 1983, Stern declared that 'several developments indicate a shift in language pedagogy away from the single method concept as the main approach to language teaching' (1983, p. 477). One such development was the failure, on the part of researchers, to find any significant advantage in one method over another. As Richards (1990) noted, 'studies of the effectiveness of specific methods have had a hard time demonstrating that the method itself, rather than other factors, such as the teacher’s enthusiasm, or the novelty of the new method, was the crucial variable' (p. 36). Moreover, recognition of the huge range of variables that impact on second language learning fueled a general disenchantment with the
  • 6. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 6 notion of a 'quick fix', or what, in the social sciences, is sometimes called the 'technical-rational approach', i.e. the notion that social change and improvement can be effected through the strict application of scientific method. This had very much been the mind-set that impelled the spread of audiolingualism, founded as it was on (now largely discredited) research into animal behavior. The last decades of the last century, however, witnessed a challenge to 'scientism' in the social sciences, a challenge associated with the advent of postmodernism, and its rejection of the idea of universalist, objective knowledge. Accordingly, Pennycook (1989) argued that methods are never 'disinterested', but serve the dominant power structures in society, leading to 'a de-skilling of the role of teachers, and greater institutional control over classroom practice'(p. 610). In a string of books and articles, post-method was presented as an alternative to method with the aim of helping stakeholders bypass the confinements of method. In view of new ideologies in the world such as globalization and postmodernism, scholars around the globe have welcomed this idea with open arms and have written many articles applauding the proposal. Although seeing learner roles in accordance with text that suggested by Rodgers might seem convenient and straightforward, what the language teaching practitioners of the post- method era are said rather implicitly is to move beyond assigning the language learner roles along such lines. Justification for this recent perspective comes in the form of the top-down criticism (methods impose on teachers how and what to teach), lack of research basis for language teaching methods, and similarity of classroom practices undertaken on the basis of particular methods. There are other justifications including attaching importance to the role of contextual factors and emphasizing the need for curriculum development processes, (see Richards & Rogers, 2001, pp. 247-248).
  • 7. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 7 To elaborate the issue, the proponents of justifications along the above lines raise various issues (Richards & Rogers, 2001): one point suggested in this regard is that since methods imposes upon teachers how and even what to teach, the advocates of methods are in the danger of accepting “on faith the claims or theory underlying the method and apply[ing] them to their own practice” (p. 247). Another point is that method perspective seeks unwarranted worldwide solutions to the problems associated with language learning. In other words, the role of contextual factors, including “the context constituted by the teachers and learners in their classrooms” (p.248), is ignored when advocating methods as instruments to teach languages in any context. Hence, as far as the language learner is concerned, the post-method objections coming in the form of top-down criticism or considering method perspective as lacking solid research foundations, and striving for the role of contextual factors were in a way rejecting the idea of pre-decided language learner roles discussed above. While method is defined to “consist of a single set of theoretical principles derived from feeder disciplines and a single set of classroom procedures directed at classroom teachers” (Kumaravadivelu, 1994, p. 29), post-method can be defined as the construction of classroom procedures and principles by the teacher himself/herself based on his/her prior and experiential knowledge and/or certain strategies. In other words, the concept of method involves theorizers constructing “knowledge-oriented” theories of pedagogy and post-method involves practitioners constructing “classroom-oriented” theories of practice (Kumaravadivelu, 1994, p. 29). Therefore, post-method is totally different from the existing methods and it emerged as a result of the limitations of the methods and hence, another method cannot aim to overcome the limitations of the concept of method. The Limitations of Conventional Methods
  • 8. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 8 Considering the definition of the concept of method, its confines can be discussed to realize the need for post-method pedagogy. To begin with, the implementation of method marginalizes the role of the teacher that is to study and understand the method and practice its principles in the right way allowing no chance for teachers’ own personal judgment and teaching method, and similarly, learners are “passive recipients” of the method and must conform to the procedure (Richards & Rodgers, 2001, p. 247). Though method is considered to be the core of the entire language learning and teaching including everything from curriculum design to materials preparation, it is too insufficient and restricted to successfully explain the complexity of language learning and teaching as its application and principles are also said to be obscure and exaggerated respectively (Kumaravadivelu, 2006). Based on this, methods emphasize cognitive phenomena and ignore institutional, political, contextual and social restrictions teachers face (Clarke, 1994). For this reason, methods are constructed for idealized contexts and thus, unrealistic. Davis, Clarke, and Rhodes (1992) found in their study of literacy instruction involving 39 elementary teachers that the variations in the classroom were so great that the sample resulted in 39 distinct methods, one for each teacher (Cited in Clarke, 1994). In other words, methods are drawn from one set of circumstances and thus, cannot fit perfectly in different situations (McMorrow, 2007). Teachers know that methods are not based on the realities of their classroom but are “artificially transplanted” into their classrooms (Kumaravadivelu, 2006, pp. 162, 166). The reason for this can be that theorists are rarely language teachers themselves leading to the impression that teachers are less expert than theorists (Clarke, 1994) underestimating their knowledge and experience. Regarding this, method-based pedagogy overlooks the experience and knowledge teachers already have from their experience of learning a language as students.
  • 9. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 9 With such a pedagogy, teacher educator “with the role of a conduit serves the package of methods on a platter with easily digestible bits and pieces of discrete items of knowledge leaving very little food for critical thought” (Kumaravadivelu, 2006, pp. 216-217). Such a top-down process cannot allow teachers to be in change and development. They also lack research basis as Allwright (1991) warns language teachers against “the uncritical acceptance of untested methods” (Cited in Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p. 161). Brown (2002) also thinks that methods are not based on empirical study as they are too “artful and intuitive” (p. 10). Kumaravadivelu (2003b) presents the issue of conventional methods from several dimensions: (1) scholastic dimension- methods ignore local knowledge and emphasizes Western knowledge; (2) linguistic dimension- methods encourage the use of English in the classroom preventing learners and teachers from using their L1 linguistic resource; (3) cultural dimension- methods consider language teaching as culture teaching emphasizing “monoculturalism”, which create employment opportunities worldwide for native speakers of English making them privileged (pp. 541-544). Post-Method Pedagogy for Teacher Growth In contrast to the concept of method, post-method pedagogy does not have the limitations mentioned above as it is not an alternative method but “an alternative to method” (Kumaravadivelu, 2003a, p. 32). Post-method pedagogy puts the teacher at the center of language learning and teaching and values his/her beliefs, experiences and knowledge. The value given to teachers should be appreciated because it is the teachers who know their learners and the classroom context best. Teachers are considered as great sources as a result of their experience in the past as students, past experience of teaching, knowledge of one or more methods gained throughout their training as teachers,knowledge of other teachers’ actions and opinions and their experience as parents or caretakers (Prabhu,1990). Therefore, post-method teachers are encouraged to develop and create their own methods as they gain experience
  • 10. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 10 based on their classroom context and knowledge of other methods and approaches. As a result, the constructed method reflects teachers’ beliefs, values and experiences (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). In this sense,post-method teachers are autonomous, analysts, strategic researchers and decision-makers. Such teachers are also reflective as they observe their teaching, evaluate the results, identify problems, find solutions, and try new techniques. Based on this, there is a movement from “science-research conceptions” towards “art-craft conception of teaching” (Arikan, 2006, p. 4) as well as a shift from top- down process to bottom-up process as teachers “theorize what they practice or practice what they theorize” (Kumaravadivelu, 2003a, p.37). One should notice that post-method does not disregard the knowledge of existing methods and approaches because these methods make you aware of your beliefs and principles and provide inexperienced teachers with some valuable initial knowledge (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). Post-method has three pedagogic parameters which make it distinct from the concept of method: particularity, practicality, possibility. As Kumaravadivelu (2006) states,“post method pedagogy must be sensitive to a particular group of teachers teaching a particular group of learners pursuing a particular set of goals within a particular institutional context embedded in a particular sociocultural milieu” (p. 171). By practicality, what is meant is that method should be applicable since a theory is useless if it cannot be practiced (Khaki, n.d.). As for possibility, the method should be appropriate socially, culturally and politically (Khaki, n.d.) in contrast to method as a colonial construct. In brief, “post-method pedagogy recognizes teachers’ prior knowledge as well as their potential to know not only how to teach but also how to act autonomously within the academic and administrative constraints imposed by institutions, curricula and textbooks” (Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p. 178). In addition, post-method involves certain frameworks such as Stern’s Three dimensional framework and Kumaravadivelu’s Macro-strategic framework. These frameworks provide teachers with important guiding principles on which to base their teaching in order to be aware of their teaching process and be able to justify it. When we say that teachers should decide on their own way of teaching, they are not totally free in their decision as they need to keep in mind some principles to conduct an effective lesson. Three
  • 11. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 11 dimensional and the Macro-strategic frameworks provide teachers with such principles that are generalizable, open-ended, descriptive, theory-neutral, method-neutral and thus, not restrictive. Teachers taking into account their experiences,the frameworks and even their knowledge of the conventional methods can construct their own methods and thus, act as evaluators, observers,critical thinkers, theorizers and practitioners. The frameworks are usefulfor inexperienced preservice teachers as they help them gain insight into effective teaching before waiting to be experienced in order to succeed. As well as for pre-service teachers,they are also worth knowing for experienced teachers to justify their teaching and hence, to put their experiences into words, which become valuable sources for prospective teachers and their colleagues leading to professional growth. The role of Learners in Post-method era It can be said that the post-method learner is an autonomous learner. The literature on learner autonomy has so far provided three interrelated aspects of autonomy: academic autonomy and social autonomy and liberatory autonomy. Academic autonomy is intrapersonal and related to learning. They are effective learners that are able to take the responsibility of the own learning. The learners should familiar with cognitive, metacognitive and affective techniques that taught by teacher. Social autonomy is interpersonal. The learners are responsible for classmate’s learning. This means that they have cooperation with other learners in order to have interaction. In Libaratory autonomy The learners should be critical thinkers (learning + how to use and think). In method era, it is totally ignored because of different reasons. The most important is sociopolitical impediments. Having center prefer relationship, there is no place for having critical thinkers. So the most important step is considering the experiences of learners. This means that considering the culture and identity of learners.
  • 12. TEACHER’S AND LEARNER’S ROLE IN POSTMETHOD ERA 12 conclusion The purpose of current study
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