Learning English is a difficult endeavor. It is more so when English is a foreign language and real world exposure is limited. Exposure to a single English speaker or small group in a classroom setting makes learning effective English even more difficult. This blog examines some of the aspects of The Prussian Schooling System (Cubberley, 1920 pp. 455-89) prevalent in EFL today, the negative effects of those ideas on learners , and the solutions offered by Liberal Arts Education (Huges, 1885 pp.37-53)
I’ll offer as an introduction and metaphor, this anecdote from John Taylor Gatto:
Similar techniques are being employed to teach English as a Foreign Language. The real world language elements of context, register, and social interaction become obscured. English learners need procedural experience with real Rhetoric (Argument). The Trivium is a time honored framework for personal and linguistic development.
Gatto’s anecdote of the Flea Circus is a modern paraphrase of Plato’s allegory of The Cave. Language learners need to be exposed to the objective world beyond the classroom. Even novice language learners need to venture out into the sun or have the lid off of the jar. The freedom to experiment, fail, improvise, and succeed make language learning empowering. Those experiences are authentic and impossible for a teacher to completely recreate only in the classroom context.