Watson from the U.S.
Studies Institute at
summer, I worked at a daycare center which prided
itself on providing high quality service to the
businesses it contracted with. As a result, they
gave us a lot of teacher training. It was the first
teacher training I had, and I had no idea how
generalized it would turn out to be.
from Dana Watson
teaching just seems natural to me. There
is just so much a teacher can get from
authentic, thematically linked teaching
exercise in particular has stayed with me. As
childcare providers, we were supposed to be working
with the children on everything from fine motor
coordination and language skills to basic math and
were divided into groups and given some teaching
materials to develop as many different ideas in
with as many different skills involved as possible.
My group received an apple. another group received
a picture of an apple.
group came up with idea after idea and could have
kept going when the facilitator called time;
throwing and rolling the apple for motor skills;
cutting the apple into segments for an introduction
to simple math; cutting the apple across the core
to see the star-shape the seeds form, and then
reading the accompanying children's book on that
theme; discussing the different colors that apples
come in, which could lead into larger social
discussions with older pre-schoolers; planting the
seeds to learn about how plants grow; making apple
sauce to follow instructions; and on and on.
other group had far fewer things, such as coloring
the picture to work on motor skills, and perhaps a
discussion of the different colors possible for an
apple. The obvious conclusion is that working with
authentic materials, instead of a simplified
facsimile, is far superior and offers much more to
this experience had more of an effect on me than I
originally thought. It came to me that the moral of
that story can certainly apply to the issue of
skills-based vs. content-based teaching.
Content-based teaching just seems natural to me.
There is just so much a teacher can get from
authentic, thematically linked teaching material.
a language up into isolated skills seems like
working with a simplified facsimile of the
language. Yes, language is made up of listening,
speaking, reading, writing, and grammar skills
together. By teaching students in a skills-based
environment, though, they are in danger of assuming
that language is not an interconnected whole, but
instead a disconnected set of individual things to
be mastered apart from one another, rather like how
physics and literature are separated in the rest of
the school curriculum.
rarely helps that skills-based programs tend to
have different teachers for the different skills.
This only serves to further separate the various
"skills" of language in the students's
every program no doubt hopes that its teachers will
coordinate and link their classes, the reality is
rarely so. Teachers are busy, and individual,
people. The listening/speaking teacher may adore
the chapter on advertising, but the reading/writing
teacher may have little use for it, despite the
fact that their textbooks are meant to be used in
conjunction. They may not think to ask the other
which chapters they'll be teaching when.
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