This morning, sat down and had some “my time”. I went through a number of my hundreds of notebooks full of philosophy, essays, poems that I’ve been collecting over 4 decades. A lot of stuff buried in these papers and notebooks but was surprised to pull open about 50 pages on film. Don’t even remember writing this but it was fascinating. One part was on Dogme, when it was a new approach to film making in the 90s.
It got me thinking about Dogme ELT something I think is often misinterpreted by many teachers. It also is sort of misnamed – if Dogme ELT were to follow the original Dogme manifesto, it wouldn’t ever take place in a class but only use original settings for practicing language. For example, if you were learning about ordering food, you’d do so in a restaurant. The classroom would be anathema for anything but learning metalanguage (language we use to talk about language).
To me, Dogme ELT is about two crucial things:
1. focusing class activities around the language of the learner and the resulting emergent language (it is highly personal)
2. little or no use of materials (textbooks, worksheets, cards, tapes, computers etc…)
Too often I hear teachers talk about Dogme ELT like it is just going into a classroom and chatting up, running with anything that happens. I don’t think this is what it is about and that approach would be Hangout ELT. In Dogme, the teacher needs to be very experienced in language teaching and interpreting the language of the learners – so they may guide them towards better use and form of that language .
So find below two things.
1. My rewrite of Dogme ELT imagining if it followed the original Dogme 95 manifesto
2. My notebook entry from the 90s about Dogme, rewritten to apply to Dogme teaching.
Might spark some thought about new possibilities with our lessons and in our classrooms.
Dogme ELT Manifesto: (see original HERE)
Dogme Teaching – A revisiting (rewriting for education/teaching of what I originally wrote about Dogme film, substituting “teaching” for references about cinema)
Dogme?! Everyone is talking about this manifesto, a new and amazing approach to teaching. What a crock! There is nothing new there, it is all fluff and puff. It is only “style”, how a woman might choose a scarf for her walk. Dressing up. The form of teaching shouldn’t be an absolute, a funnel but open and expansive, a way to more things. Dogme teaching is a way for some but we shouldn’t think that anything about teaching language is a MUST. Nothing is sacred and there are many ways to touch that special place where learning happens.
But even if we accept this new form, this new approach as being new, it certainly isn’t revolutionary or transformative. It hasn’t any developmental gravity, it takes teaching nowhere. It only leaves so much on the cutting floor. It simplifies but at a cost. We don’t realize it but we all bring so much cultural baggage into the classroom – there must be desks, a chalkboard, students as an audience, 40 minutes ……. Dogme teaching is just another system and jailing – as all ideological, school and teacher led learning must be.
Also published on Medium.
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