Monday, 19 September 2011

Participle clauses: little objects of desire

Is there a connection between what a learner pays and what a learner does?

A group of learners pays considerably less than someone receiving individual tuition, but is the concomitant to that a lower level of effort and, consequently, achievement?

I was set wondering about this after reading Seth Godin's post 'Do it tomorrow'.

In it, he argues that people often confuse the value of advice with what they pay for it, even though there is often little correlation.

More intriguingly for BE, he proposes that, 'One of the most effective ways to get your ideas implemented is to charge a lot for them.'

This certainly sounds appealing on several different levels.

If we accept that the ideas we wish to get implemented are those relating to English language usage, it means that, primarily, we should charge more in order to increase our rate of success.

Our learners will all become fluent, and, incidentally, we will all become the kind of people who get to use real cutlery on planes.

I suspect that there is some correlation here.

Certainly, if a person of relatively modest means books individual lessons, this is usually the sign of a significant investment, of money, yes, but also of intent.

However, learners with more substantial pockets can easily afford any kind of individual lesson, so pricing is not a factor in regard to success.

Rather, having clear and present aims is a more likely indicator of success, regardless of the amount paid for the tuition.

Professional qualifications or gate-keeping exams provide some of the best incentives in this regard.

Whatever their shortcomings as educational tools, such exams offer well-defined areas of study, compelling both teachers and learners to focus on a clear set of aims.

However, those learners who do not pursue such assessment-bound courses should not be denied local incentives just because they have the general object of wanting to speak English in case it might be good for business.

Rather, we should very explicitly furnish them with measurable mini-objectives of their own, be they test or task related.

Freud suggested that desire is not implicit in us, but that we are taught what and how to desire.

Perhaps, this is also part of our job - teaching those learners who do not have specific desires, to desire specific things, like using participle clauses in reports.

This will have an anticipatory and a retroactive effect, as not only will it  increase their incentive to learn but also their sense of satisfaction at having achieved an aim.

Or, we could just charge everyone more and live like kings.

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