As regular readers of this blog will know, I (along with at least a few others) didn’t see Stephen Krashen’s plenary at the 2011 KOTESOL International Conference. I did hear bits and pieces about the (well-received) talk from those who attended. One of the most quoted quotes I heard was about what Krashen sees as the difference between training and education. Considering I hadn’t heard the talk till very recently I didn’t think it would be fair to talk about it. Now that I have (finally!) seen the talk, I am ready to share a funny (in my view at least) conversation I had about it.
(The talk itself is linked below. I recommend it and think it’s a very good use of 45 minutes.)
(Perhaps I will save some comments on what I see as his oversimplification of Swain’s Output Hypothesis for another time)
A few weeks after the conference I was talking to another friend and the conversation shifted (as it often does with the two of us) to some of the false dichotomies that we read/hear a lot about in the TESOL field. Things like theory vs. practice are always a hot topic. This particular time we we found ourselves talking about teacher training vs. teacher development. My friend, who I think had actually seen Krashen speak at the conference (even though he was part of the courtyard crew mentioned in my previous post) and mentioned how Krashen had said something about the difference between hearing your daughter had received sex education at school or the difference between hearing your daughter had received sex training at school. Now, this is a nice, memorable quote but I am not so sure how much we can take away from it. Does this mean all training is “bad?” Or does it just mean that we don’t want our kids to be trained how to do things we don’t want them to do. Does it mean that we learn best by education? I am still not sure, though I realize I might be taking a funny quote a bit too seriously.
I just discovered that Krashen was actually talking about phonemic training (as opposed to teacher training) and what he sees as its inherent futility. He started on this part at around the 29 minute mark in the video above. Talking about phonemic awareness training he said:
This idea of training always bothered me. Training little children. Not education but training.The difference between training and education was explained to me by a colleague a few years ago…
If your daughter goes to school and she comes home and says they’ve had sex education that’s OK.
But if she comes home and says “we had sex training” you kind of wonder what happened. OK?
Again, nice quote. Funny. I was discussing this quote over coffee with my friend and our conversation went something like what I have written below.
At a coffee shop
Mike: That is a good one, but I am not sure what it really says. I mean, it sounds to me that he is saying that these are wholly different things but I don’t really think he is being fair about the potential benefits or situations where training, whatever that means, might be helpful. (I was still thinking the quote had been about teacher training at this point)
Friend: Interesting point. It seems like the more popular term or concept these days is teacher development or education. That is something to think about.
Mike: Agreed. Jumping back to the example, I am really not sure whether I would want a teacher that has been trained or one that has been educated. I suppose a combination of the two is the key.
Friend: Exactly. This is also part of the danger of pretending that they are opposed to each other.
Mike: Right. And the example is interesting and memorable but… you know what? I think I would probably rather date* someone who has had sex training.
Friend: Haha, I see what you mean, but…I think I would prefer that my high school-aged son have sex education so he knows what the story is.
(Thanks for reading!)
*”Date” may or may not have been the word that I used.