Chomsky on the Responsibilities of Teachers

The willingness to rely on “experts” is a frightening aspect of contemporary political and social life. Teachers, in particular, have a responsibility to make sure that ideas and proposals are evaluated on their merits, and not passively accepted on grounds of authority, real or presumed.

Chomsky, Noam. “Linguistic theory.” Language teaching: Broader contexts, Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. New York: MLA Materials Center. 1966.

Too often, those of us who teach are tempted to take some sort of “proven method” and spoon it out to our students as-is. Time is limited, teaching is complicated, and a good, solid lesson plan can take forever to formulate. We do have a responsibility, though, to question the ideas we’re presenting and incorporating into our lessons. A teacher is not just a source of knowledge, but also a role-model of scholarship. If we want students to question, probe, and contemplate, then we have to be ready to do the same.

Sure, I could stand in front of a room full of people and explain affix-hopping, drop Chomsky’s name in there, and have everyone buy into it. Chomsky said it, therefore it is incontrovertibly true, right? And it explains a lot of interesting features of English syntax. Wouldn’t it be more valuable, though, for those people to look at the idea critically, to ask whether affix-hopping is the only way to explain those phenomena (it isn’t), or to question the need for such an explanation in the first place?

About

English teacher, student of Japanese, and aspiring linguist.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Teaching Tips

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • The #PhilandoCastile decision proves again that in the US, the law exists only to uphold power and oppress the powerless. 1 week ago
  • RT @shiikazuo: 自民・公明は「早く採決すれば都議選までに忘れるだろう」と強行に走った。 このあまりに卑怯な党略に対する最も有効な方策は「忘れないこと」と「審判をくだすこと」です。 1 week ago
  • This is a bread. How thankful! #100均英語 4 weeks ago
  • It is a small happiness for your convenient life. #100均英語 4 weeks ago
  • RT @ditzkoff: So tired of these reboots. https://t.co/GcfhfMnnj9 1 month ago
%d bloggers like this: