Our world has become global and yet we have become more individual and personal like never before. With yin having shifted towards globalization on one hand, yang is providing us with an environment in which personal approach is more pressing than ever.
I grew up in the fifties and sixties where people were still names, not numbers, where countries had borders that were not to be crossed unless you were permitted to do so. But in those days, you were a non-entity in the classroom: the whole class was taught the same subject, at the same pace and given the same exams with teachers expecting the same answer from everyone.
Nowadays we are travelling across borders, we are all numbers but In the classroom a dramatic shift is occurring: no longer are we treated as twenty or thirty sheep that have to chew the same cud: we have become individuals, with our own needs and backgrounds and are given the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the future on our own individual terms, using our own unique background and DNA-codes to do so. At last, we have arrived at the next level of the aquarian revolution.
As old as….
Some movements have already been with us for generations, like the Freinet movement. Others, like the Open Class movement, are more recent developments of ideas that are age old.
This new era wants to combine all movements that are based upon the same principle, explained below. So, if you are part of one or another movement, let this momentum not pass, make yourself known and stand out. Together, we will change the world, the dream of many but alas not often realised, for the better and make the future generation happier and more balanced.
TFM: basic principle
The new development in teaching, and let’s stick with that, has one main principle. Nobody enters school like an unwritten white blanc sheet of paper. We all carry our backpack, already filled in pre-school times, which makes us successful or a failure within the twelve or more years of schooling ahead of us, especially if the school environment is a traditional one (and in most societies, it still is). Traditional means that the teacher teaches the same contents to a whole group at an “intermediate” pace (whatever that means), expecting each member to absorb whatever he or she can. Many, however, do not succeed. It is to that group of pupils, students and adult learners that TFM comes to the rescue.
The proverb is: better one bird in the hand, than two in the bush. TFM wants to highlight exactly that.
There are two certainties in life:
- Everything changes, and does it not change fast!
- What we already know is “the bird in the hand”. What is in the textbook or in the printed hand-outs of the teacher, are the two in the bush. The bird in the hand is the fundament you can rely on. You could argue whether to call it fundament or foundation. I have opted for fundament, since a foundation is something that you have created to act as a basis. Fundament includes what has been handed to you, like your DNA, your learning attitude, your pre-school experiences. Let me point out that fundament is not to be used as a synonym of fundamental (although maybe it could become the only perspective for the future), nor as a synonym of fundamentalism and fundamentalist, two words that have attracted negative connotations over the past decades.
What we know is the sound basis to acquire new skills and knowledge; Even if this fundament is slightly off-balance. For people who learn a new language and have acquired a crooked way of speaking, this fundament is as solid as rock. It may be hard for them to un-learn some extremely tough habits, but whatever their status quo, it is the solid basis inside their brains that will enable them to acquire more knowledge and skills.
Ideally, when learning a new language or other new skills like karate or cooking, we should start from zero, thus barring any chances of corrupt practises to interfere with the acquisition of new skills. But, we are not that blank page we would like to be, and all of us have at least a pre-conceived idea of what we are going to learn.
What is in the handbook, what is to be learnt, is indeed flimsy and in the bush. Even though we try to prepare a whole class of learners, even if we offer a motivation ahead of the new skills that need to be learnt, what we are offering people is just a make-belief fundament, read foundation, which will soon collapse with those who are not capable of absorbing new knowledge at a pre-set pace. Hence the failure of many to complete the desired education.
The major change with people who are engaged in e.g. the Freinet movement or school that have embraced an open class environment is exactly what we seek to propagates these people are using what each and every individual has already acquired in order to allow the learner to acquire a new skill. Hence, teaching will and can no longer be a group-session where the individual dissolves into a group of meek followers of the teacher. TFM wants to bring people together that want to develop strategies to help people learn new skills, based on their own fundament because that fundament is rock-solid! Nothing else is. Take away this rock-solidness and you will create a generation that is unable to cope adequately with the rapid changes they will definitely face.
In order to be able to face changes, you need to be standing on firm ground. That firm ground is offered in an environment where people experience success based on their own achievements. Generation after generation has been told that they are failures in school, at their job and maybe in their social life too. These people are the staunchest opponents of changes. They become conservative members, they become control-freaks that want to build a wall to ward off changes. Yet, changes cannot be halted.
It is our duty to build a future generation by building on that what people have and what people are, each single one of them if we do not want to create a society where the masses will trust the aggressive calls of totalitarian leaders that claim they can keep the changes at bay and stop the clock ticking.
TFM does not want to be a secretive society. It has no rituals, nor memberships. No fees are charged and no financial demands are placed upon those who sympathise. TFM wants to bring people of the same understanding together and become a voice In politics of every country so that people become and remain individuals in every aspect of life, especially in teaching, but also in the work-environment. The momentum is here. The date is July4th 2016 and this text has been conceived mid-air between Belgium and Portugal.
May peace, health and open-mindedness be with you for ever.
Leo De Clercq, MA
Co-founder of the OpenKlas (Open Class) and Freinet movement at Encora,
Secondary and foreign language teacher