fruit-tree concept

– motivation in the EFL classroom

“Embracing Failure”

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So it is holidays and there have been enough days doing other stuff for the brain to recuperate and start considering what can be done better in this brand new year. I have a year 10 coming up to the end of their time at our school but most need to be prepared for college  (years 11-13), so I have been thinking about how to improve higher order thinking (HOT) skills and read some articles on Edutopia, of which this is just one.

Indeed, I have a couple of students who are brilliant at revising (remembering) but are stumped when they have to start applying their knowledge to a new context which can be as basic as using recently learnt vocabulary in a sentence which illustrates the meaning of timg_1529he word, showing that he also does not always really understand the concept of the word(s). This young man does not embrace the concept of failure and shows signs of giving up, trying to blame the teacher for having something against him, not accepting that his methods of learning might not be ideal.

With these students in mind, I have also been looking at some articles and listening to podcasts about learning to learn and have summarized some of the methods suggested on the Cult of Pedagogy podcasts (No.58).

Whilst  browsing I came across  a  Video “Embracing Failure” on edutopia.org. which was particularly interesting as it suggested embracing failure as a recipe for success and spoke mostly about working with the Arts:  “You’re going to make bad paintings,” says Gonzalez. “You’re going to make bad photographs. You’re going to fumble your way through it, and in fact, that’s how you learn. You need to make those mistakes.”  Which fits fantastically to my pic for today – and pulls in my particular area of interest: utilizing Art lessons not only for developing creativity but also for increasing EFL contact and for developing HOT.

Over the next weeks, I’ll be working on developing tasks for all age groups (years 4 to 10) in Art with a view to incorporating these principles of meta-cognitive instruction but, hopefully, without taking away the relaxed atmosphere which is absolutely important for Art lessons. For some, it is stressful enough that they are expected to speak English (EFL). I hasten to add that “relaxed” should not mean that the level of expectations should be low. I believe that we should expect a high level of engagement and nurture an environment in which critique and feedback is encouraged and welcome.

Author: suevernon

British born, artist, EFL and Art teacher in a bilingual primary and secondary school in Germany. Main interest: increasing motivation in EFL classroom through Storytelling based Art-CLIL. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gallery-suevernonschad

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