After Gabriella Ferenczi’s short welcome, we took part in an insightful discussion with Rakesh Bhanot about English language teaching. His talk was entitled “From DITTO to D.I.T.O.W. – Do It The Other/Opposite Way”.
Rakesh started with a controversial statement: “No one can teach.” And went on to say: “All you can do is to create conditions where learning can take place.”
He invited us to think about what we had all learnt since we left school. Following this, we tried to define what learning is, and ended up with a definition, viz. learning is a change in Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge. (ASK).
Rakesh pointed out that, unlike in ‘giving’ and ‘taking’, there is no symbiotic relationship between teaching and learning. Just because you have taught does not mean that any learning has taken place. We don’t really know how learning happens; it can take place because of teaching but also in spite of teaching, or without a teacher. Throughout history, people have held all sorts of views on teaching and learning such as this line from Alexander Pope:
The best way to learn something is to teach it.
Rakesh postulated that we often do things the wrong way round and not just in teaching. We brain-stormed and listed countless examples from the areas of sports, science, medicine, nature, humour, sales and work where changing our approach, changing our perspectives and shifting paradigms has led to deeper insights and new ways of understanding the world by doing things in “opposite ways”.
We concluded that we may want challenge at times our own thinking and that shifting, even reversing, paradigms may be a powerful way to enhance our effectiveness of the work we do as a language professional. Some examples:
- Don’t teach like teachers, teach like parents.
- Don’t teach like a professional, teach like an amateur.
- Don’t do it for the income, do it for the outcome.
- Don’t give them the right answers, make them ask the right questions.
After Rakesh’s talk, we continued the conversation in a bar over a glass of wine or beer, and ended up chatting til quite late. In fact, we got so into it that we forgot to take pictures.
Thanks to everyone who attended, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you you all.
About the speaker:
Rakesh Bhanot, now based in London, began his English language teaching career in 1972 in Spain. Since then he has worked in and/or delivered seminars, workshops, keynote addresses in 48 countries. He is the Founder Editor (1985), now member of the Advisory Board, of the journal Language Issues (UK). His publications (with co-editor, S Fallows) include Educational Development Through ICT (Information and communications technology) and Quality Issues in ICT-based Higher Education. Currently, he is writing a book on DITOW in English language teaching with Mario Rinvolucri.
Rakesh Bhanot holds a BA (University of Warwick) and an MA PGCE (University of London).
Feel free to reach out to Rakesh via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.