Friday, December 10, 2010

What's a Pedagogue?

In the wake of the discussions about how our college administrators treat us, somebody pointed out to me what the etymology of the word "pedagogue" really is:

late 14c., "schoolmaster, teacher," from O.Fr. pedagogue "teacher of children," from L. paedagogus "slave who escorted children to school and generally supervised them," later "a teacher," from Gk. paidagogos, from pais (gen. paidos) "child" (see pedo-) + agogos "leader," from agein "to lead" (see act).
Get it? A pedagogue was originally a slave who escorted children to school and supervised them. You'd think things have changed since then, but to hear some of our college administrators, the word "pedagogue" should still retain its original meaning.


Anonymous said...

Well, on pedagogues, here is a rant on language pedagogues, after my giving two language finals today, such that I have pedagogy on my mind.

Language pedagogues always have a new method and they always say: remember, you are good at languages, so the way you learned won't work for most people.

I do NOT know what they think the way I learned is. I speak several languages well and I have studied more. I have learned by immersion, by grammar and translation, by ALM, by the direct method, by the natural approach, etc., etc., so there isn't any single way I learned.

And if what worked best for me won't work for the majority, then what has to go for sure are my top five favorite things: (a) use of target language, (b) audio input, (c) authentic readings and cultural materials, (d) small conversation groups with native or very good speakers, that aren't your professor so you get a different kind of practice, (e) guided writing.

It was because I usually had these things that I learned so well, but if they worked on me and if I am the exception, they all have to go -- right?

The other pedagogical principle I am tired of is the idea of lowering affective filters. "I am too afraid to speak" is now an EXCUSE for not studying, and a relaxed classroom atmosphere seems to mean low expectations. I want to actually raise affective filters, I think! ;-)

Clarissa said...

I think the theory behind lowering the affective filters was created at a time where students were a lot more different from the way they are today. In the environment of a few decades ago, it might have made all the sense in the world to lower the filters. Today, however, I agree with you that it might be quite different.

I use the same methods as you, with the only difference that finding native speakers of Spanish is next to impossible in my area (we are that backwards.) So that sucks and limits my students' opportunities to learn.

Anonymous said...

I like your followup post on this, thanks for writing it!