thoughts about coursework

To compare what we are teaching with what the students need to know.

After reading the textbook suggested by my supervisors, it has really been brought home to me how far apart these 2 probably are when preparing students for English medium schools  in non English speaking (non western for want of a better term) countries.

A huge amount of our energy is spent pummeling them into the traditional academic English Essay format but do they actually use that outside of English classes.  If we are preparing them for a western university then certainly yes but here in Oman I would say no.  I know for sure at least some of their other teachers have very low levels of English.  Although theoretically they are teaching in English I can’t see how this could be actually happening in reality.  Apparently their teaching materials are created directly from the ministry.  If they want they can just read off the PowerPoints.  These are in English and the textbooks are in English but I can’t imagine that the primary for of assessment is an English Essay.

I wonder why are we clinging to the essay?


Notes on philosophical framework from Willis:

The Traditional Period (Early 1900s–World War II)

Complicity in imperialism was rejected by critical theorists who sought to uncover and make obvious the domination and subjugation of other cultures by the imperialist powers. Research during this period often supported imperialist notions.
• The belief in monumentalism (“ethnography would create a
museum like picture of the culture studied” (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994, p. 7) was rejected by interpretivists because context is critical to understand- ing, so knowledge is local rather than universal. It was also rejected by the critical theorists because the conclusions presented were those of the dom- inant cultures that were imposed on those without power. “Today this image [of objectivism in fieldwork] has been shattered. The works of the classic ethnographers are seen by many as relics of the colonial past” (p. 7).
•1970s to 1986

Essentially Geertz argues for an approach to social science research that rejects all four of the foundations of the traditional period (objectivism, imperialism, monumentalism, and timelessness). He proposes a social science based in “thick” descriptions and an approach that emphasizes seeking multiple perspectives, interpretive rather than positivist explana- tions and purposes, open-ended methods (Miles and Huberman’s “loose” qualitative research methods), and the situatedness of knowing (the idea that we understand only in context).



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