It’s not ESL specific, but I found a lot of relevant ideas in McKay Jenkins’ recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, he argues against focusing on preparing students for competition in the global marketplace. Instead, he suggests helping students understand and explore the problems of the marketplace, problems that are becoming more and more evident. At the same time, Jenkins has his students take action locally, performing field research on issues that matter to them. This idea of encouraging students to find opportunities for action as part of learning about global issues is one that I have long been a proponent of. In fact, if you’ll be at TESOL in March, I’ll be presenting ideas for bringing local environmental resources into the classroom.
I hear a lot of politicians, reformers, and even educational administrators talk about the importance of preparing students for the marketplace. I appreciate being reminded that this is not education’s ultimate goal.