Why we should challenge our personal myths

Last weekend I read a very interesting post on Hana Ticha’s blog (I realise this is a tautology as ALL of Hana’s posts are interesting) and it really got me thinking. The post is called “Challenging one of my personal myths”. You might want to click here and read her post first, but if not here is a brief summary:

  1. There was something she believed and always did connected to teaching English.
  2. Then one day she decided to change things around.
  3. After that came feedback – from her students and her own self-reflection.
  4. That feedback may, or may not, have had a lasting impact on her teaching.

You might look at number 4 and think “Well why bother doing it if it’s not going to change anything?” But that would be missing the whole point of the exercise.

It is really important to challenge ourselves and look at things from another perspective, even if we end up retaining the status quo. We all have beliefs about the best way to learn and teach. We can still accept that within these beliefs there is space for different people to learn in different ways, but there are still things we choose to do (or not do to) because we believe it is the best way.

So it is important to acknowledge these beliefs (prejudices even?) exist and, from time to time, reassess them. This can be as simple as sitting on the tram and thinking about them; or we might go and observe another teacher and realise that they do certain things differently from us; or, as with Hana, we might want to do some action research in the classroom.

Meaning it is not just the result that matters. Actively thinking about our beliefs and reflecting on our classroom practice is also extremely important. And if by doing this we find that we want to change something – great! Equally we might discover we are happy with what we have been doing all along. Again – great! But both results have been arrived at by considering what we do and the alternatives, and as far as I am concerned, that’s double great!

Hana’s post has made me think back over my time as a teacher and how my own beliefs have shifted over time. I urge you to read her blog and then challenge one of your personal myths.

Dave

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