Thursday, May 14, 2009

The unquestioned logic of teaching through an unfamiliar language


At least Bartimeus knew that he was blind. Upon hearing that Jesus is in town, he cried like crazy calling for Jesus to come and make him see.

For decades of struggling to use an unfamiliar language in classrooms for the supposed intention of formal education which is to enlighten ignorant minds, no loud objections have ever been raised. Making learning a torturous experience by using English in classrooms when the teacher can very well speak the child’s home language, has long been an unquestioned logic. It was like speaking, reading, and writing in English and being educated are one and the same. Teachers overlooked the fact that the real purpose of education is to enable children to see and understand the world clearly. A perplexing thought especially if we consider that teachers spend at least four years analyzing the process of learning. Children who failed the mark and eventually dropped out were blamed for being slow or problematic.

Actually, one does not need to refer to sophisticated theories and research reports to understand that teaching thru the child’s home language is most logical. The ancient book tells us that when God wanted to build a relationship with human beings, he became like them. He, known as the Greatest Teacher, was born and spoke the human language. In one episode in Jerusalem God enabled his followers to speak miraculously in various tongues so that they could communicate the gospel to all the out-of-town visitors who trooped the city for the Feast of Pentecost.

I guess seeing the light is not the first thing we need. The first miracle we direly need is to realize and accept that all along we are blind and cannot see, and had the gumption to call ourselves “a teacher.”