Values Mismatch?

A Call for the Study of Educational Values in English Language Teaching 1 Kiss Tamás

Introduction One of the most common questions that educators all over the world usually ask themselves is whether their work is effective or not? They are concerned with achieving the aims they set for their workshops and courses, and they want to know whether their students have learned from the lessons or whether they simply will forget everything as soon as their education finishes? Will the effects of training still be observable sometime after the courses when the participants start or continue their careers as teachers of English? These above questions are not easy to answer as they involve more than a simple observation of what teachers do in their classrooms. If one sets out to find an answer to them, a deeper analysis of cause and effect relationships should be applied. The researcher should not only concentrate on visible classroom behaviour of teachers but he also needs to consider teachers’ beliefs and values, their attitudes towards teaching and learning, and the cultural context in which they operate. “Discovering what these [teachers’ principles] may be and, crucially, how they relate to each other may seem as a means to understanding teaching” (Breen et al, 1998:2). This, however, has to be approached with utmost care as values and beliefs are highly complex phenomena to interpret. The researcher may be easily misled when analysing the meaning of data gathered since his own personal filters might contribute to the evaluation process and thus, these can add further implied meanings to the collected materials. In this article, I want to argue for a more holistic approach to evaluating educational change and assessing the effectiveness of training programmes, and I propose to apply tools of philosophy in order to understand why teachers act in certain ways in their classrooms and to prepare them for handling sometimes conflicting values in their professional lives. Setting the scene English Language Teaching (ELT) experienced a great paradigm shift in the 19801990s in the post-communist countries of Eastern Central Europe. Novel ideas, expertise, and training poured into these countries and the more traditional approaches were considered outdated and not appropriate for the new era. It might be claimed that after a change in the political systems, a revolution also swept through the foreign
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Kiss T. 2006. ‘Values Mismatch? A Call for the Study of Educational Values in English Language Teaching’ in Anglica: Warsaw, Poland

etc. if a teacher does not possess all . for example the Baseline Study (FeketeMajorNikolov 1999) in Hungary. which by now. just to mention a few. whether it would produce professional classroom behaviour that stems from newly learnt values some time after the end of a project.. values. mostly communicative revolution was supported by many organisations. and feelings. language.language classrooms.). and the implementation of change is completed. and the context of an ever changing society. is crucial when the extent of educational change is to be measured: the educational values and beliefs of teachers. I believe. the top of the iceberg. In other words. etc. Below the waterline are the important areas of knowledge of pupils. beliefs. 1991. ELT is seen to be mature enough to stand on its own. have either moved out of these countries or have reduced their efforts to minimum in the field of ELT. Without a careful examination of this area. and the like. manage the class. would be much smaller. Without these. almost non-existent. There have been some studies which aimed to measure the effectiveness of the work done in the field of ELT. that is the visible classroom behaviour. 1986. whether they assimilate the learnt values which underline modern practices into their existing belief systems. it is impossible to identify to what extent teachers adopt the new techniques. They believe they have achieved their aims and the job has been done. Krasnick. The study of the practitioners’ educational values may reveal whether the implemented educational change is sustainable. The concept has appeared earlier in other sources but it was Malderez and Bodóczky (1999) who applied it to describe English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers.. attitudes. in other words. The professional literature usually applies metaphors to investigate teachers’ belief systems (Thornbury. it is important to investigate how the practising English teachers’ value systems have been affected through extensive training opportunities. These are good ways of visualising why the study of values and beliefs are important since they highlight the subtle connections between one’s actions and their underlying values. conceptualization of the teaching and learning process. etc. and the Peace Corps. changes in the teaching and training curricula. language form and use. but these usually do not consider an area which. for example by the British Council. The top of the iceberg symbolizes the visible professional behaviour of teachers: how they speak in the classroom. This. education. Values of teachers In order to gain a complete picture of the changes that have been implemented. One of these metaphors is the image of the ‘iceberg’ (see Appendix 1) by Malderez and Bodóczky (1999). or if they simply do what they are told without really believing in its usefulness. how they organise the activities.

educational philosophy is a discipline that “is concerned with widening and deepening our knowledge of education and with focusing tools of philosophy on educational ideas. issues and problems” (Farrel. 1997). . as a reason. theories. . a pedagogic principle. for sometimes quite contradictory classroom behaviours. professionals may consider what roles teachers and teacher educators may have. . the human being’s place in that universe and the relationships between them (Gutek. As a conclusion to their investigation. and how we justify our efforts” (Ozmon and Craver. philosophy might be able to provide him with a framework for this task since it is. One might say that “to think philosophically is to reflect on who we are. student centeredness.. a simple observation of what they do in their classroom is not satisfactory. Nor should we anticipate that a teacher will act in a specific way on the basis of a pedagogic principle . values. an attempt to create and organise thought with the aim to explain human nature. When this is put in an educational context. Therefore. Educational philosophy By definition. (1998) in Australia gives evidence that every teacher has their own specific conceptualized framework to operate within. how they carry out these roles. When one seriously examines educational practices and theories. They found out that one and the same teacher behaviour may have many different reasons. philosophy may assist teachers and trainers alike to inform their practice and act consciously to achieve their aims. The research team observed lessons and conducted interviews with teachers to identify the reasons for their classroom actions. One possible way of investigating teachers’ values and beliefs might be the application of educational philosophy. Kerry and Kerry 1995:170). the universe. in very general terms. Unfortunately. what we are doing.g. why we are doing it. e. . This means that when one aims to investigate EFL teachers’ values and beliefs. the researchers claim that .these ‘under water’ concepts. Teachers identified. arguments. and it works the other way round. then her/his presence in the classroom would be minimal. and why they operate in their classrooms as they do. 1998:72). 2003:4). Research conducted by Breen et al. beliefs. (Breen et al. this is not so simple. we should not infer specific intentions or motivations for an observed classroom practice without discovering such things directly from the teacher. It seems logical to draw the conclusion that if someone observes what teachers do in their classrooms then it is possible to find out what values influence their actions. Other tools of investigation should be chosen.

Still. strongly depends on their acceptance both by local professionals and the general public. 1992) in politics always used education as a tool to influence the masses and created a "uniform school structure . then it is highly possible that the new ideas will be rejected as inappropriate for the context and thus. valuable opportunities may be lost for improvement and development. Globalised educational values Globalisation is a general issue of the 21st century. As Heath (2002:38) claims "the educational domain is an area in which the impacts of globalisation are most severely felt". as we know. This rapid flow of information. such as the USA. it cannot be claimed that this phenomenon is exclusive to this region. . often represents uncertainty and fear for the participant. the United Kingdom. Therefore. Similar stories of educational traditionalism have been recorded all over the world by researchers. where ideological monism (Szebenyi. 1992:20). where influential powers. . or Australia with their leading role in economics and communication networks have an impact not only on forming theories about teaching and education but even on classroom practices all over the world. This can be significantly observed in the field of English Language Teaching. Resistance against fundamental educational changes is not a new phenomenon. however. . more powerful and commercialised schools of thought. It is especially true for the Central-European setting. some general techniques and theories of language learning and teaching that usually stem from the above mentioned countries have been adopted all around the world. one should first understand them and investigate how they relate to more globalised trends. has had its impact on professional practice all over the world. It is natural that ELT practitioners and educational decision makers try to keep up to date with the latest techniques and principles of their trade. therefore it should be carefully managed if the desired results are to be achieved. information can travel around the globe at such a speed that was unimaginable a few decades ago. It seems valid to claim that this acceptance is possible when elements of the newly introduced practice are in harmony with the values and traditions that exist in such contexts. In order to protect local values. of course.Discovering one’s own educational philosophy is extremely important in the 21st century when local educational values are diminishing under the influence of other. Change. permitting no deviation whatsoever" (Szebenyi. Their application. It can be seen in many fields of life and education is not an exception. With the rapid development of telecommunication. If there is no possibility to link the philosophy of new teaching methods to the traditional values present in society.

The complaints about present generations indicate that educators and the education system can only. The values and beliefs about teaching seem to be firmly anchored in teachers’ minds and sometimes it is even buried in their unconscious still to be discovered. not understanding "the basis of the real world of the host institution and its personnel" (Holliday 1994:129) would definitely lead to failure. must be very cautious when aiming to have an impact on the context in which they hope to initiate change. (Just in brackets. keep up with the changes that take place in society very slowly. which was again criticized by their predecessors. Teachers. It seems . and it is not surprising that there is a desire to 'fit in' among them. Similarly. indicating that changes in educational methods. Teachers seem reluctant to change the way they teach in spite of the availability of new techniques and insights research may provide. and Oprandy (1990:14) found in their study that "even with training. society also changes.Education tends to be a very tradition centred activity. [teachers] do not change the way they teach. act local Whether innovative ideas and practices succeed or fail depend on several factors. ‘used to be much better’ generation). therefore. disciplined than the present ones. but continue to follow the same pattern of teaching". Gebhard. I am also sure that the parents and educators of the complainers compared them to yet an earlier generation. It is enough to look at how each generation complains about the new upcoming ones: if one believes the accounts than we can surely conclude that the future of humankind is far from being bright and promising. Implementers of change. Staffroom anecdotes tell horror stories of the present youth who are often compared to students of earlier periods. claiming that they need to meet the society’s expectations. However. the storyteller is usually a representative of the ‘golden’. as Fullan writes. will do no harm for my children’. who need to satisfy the needs of society. Think global. intelligent. or in the curriculum. Many times one may hear the general public say that ‘what has served me good. "coming to grips with the multiple realities of people" (1982:113). Gaitan. are not always welcome. This to me indicates that the way teachers teach might not be appropriate for the changing needs of youth in the classroom and what used to be appropriate a few decades ago is now considered old fashioned and boring by students. The crucial step in initiating educational change is. are not willing to experiment with new techniques. and that’s a fact. Failing to do this would encourage the rejection of new principles on the basis of 'values mismatch' between the local context and that of the initiator of change. The comparison is usually in favour of the past learners who proved to be more diligent.

It may happen that teachers are affected differently by the new principles and ideas. If rejection itself appears to be too great a risk (in view of acceptance by colleagues or official sponsorship) teachers may take on the new routines while rejecting the perception behind them. but it is difficult to judge whether visible changes in their actions and their way of thinking. or the approaches they follow in their classrooms are in harmony. Alternatively. operating with the perception in contexts in which perceptions are seen to be relevant. as an act of self-protection. it seems relevant to cite the questions Wagner (1988) puts forward since these may inform the researcher who wishes to investigate the extent to which new practices manage to get implanted in any given context: . The study of education values may not only provide information for implementers of change. Some of them may use currently fashionable keywords. asking the right questions to gather data is of utmost importance. Therefore. such as professional discussion. Phrabu (1987: 105-6) states: The threat to existing routines can make many teachers reject innovation out of hand. It can assist the researcher to determine the extent of such change and identify areas for further work. In fact. Taking all these into consideration it can be stated that educational change and its impact are not easy to investigate.logical to assume that the first step should be a systematic study of the local educational values which could influence the whole process of change. thus making them mere routines from the beginning. but it can prove a useful tool when one aims to evaluate the effectiveness of programmes that initiate change. but operating without it in the classroom. Or they may dissociate perception from practice. it is likely that some of them tend to be what Wallace (1991) refers to as "non-committers" who try to avoid involvement and thus "providing themselves with a foolproof excuse for lack of success" (Wallace 1991:24). When dealing with such a complex phenomenon. thus their application does not always yield success. a strong sense of plausibility about some existing perception may make some teachers see the innovation as counter-intuitive and look on its implementation as pedagogically harmful. Non-committers have the tendency of adopting some of the new techniques but this is done without a belief in their usefulness or in the values which underlie them.

the language itself through courses like descriptive grammar. both levels of change need to be satisfied.e. Very often conceptual change remains at the level of thought and does not materialise itself in the classroom context for several reasons which have already been discussed above. On the second level of change. Courses offer students an insight into language learning and teaching activities. the practitioner is challenged to reconsider and re-evaluate the values that seem to inform his everyday practice. they do not lead to whole-hearted and fully committed attempts to reform one’s practice. Wagner’s (1988) list is not a comprehensive one. the behavioural change. in what way? (1988:100) Of course. and thus. In theory. 1999). the conceptual level.• Did teachers really change their teaching according to what the experts said? • Did methods have a direct impact on teaching routines? • Is the change in theories reflected in changed teaching behaviour? • Did and do new methods lead to innovation in the school? And if so. One can claim. The differentiation between theory and practice indicates that change usually occurs at different levels of which the most significant ones are the levels of behavioural and conceptual change. i. Students also learn about pupils in classes dealing with psychology and general education. introducing change. it is possible that one agrees with the new principles and accepts change as valuable and important but accompanying action does not follow in due course. In order to achieve one's set objectives and introduce new practices in an educational context. literature and integrated skills courses. that behavioural and conceptual changes should be achieved together if innovation is successfully implemented. The importance of educational values in teacher education Teacher training is mostly concerned with the upper part of the underwater piece of the teacher ‘iceberg’ (Malderez and Bodóczky. however. They have a chance to learn how to plan and manage a lesson. The first level of change. Referring back to what Phrabu (1987) says about teachers adopting routines in the classroom. makes it possible that new practices are tried out and introduced in the classrooms or training rooms. it indicates the complexities of such research and highlights a distinction between change in theory and change in practice. it may be claimed that sometimes the observable classroom practice and the actual behavioural change do not indicate a change in the perception of such practice. but they spend very . therefore.

Why do teacher training institutions not spend more time on these areas? They simply tell or show student teachers how they are expected to teach. and stress. etc. external factors.g. Nathan (1995) lists the most common ones as lack of power or influence. partner. or teaching. inadequate information. Stress is a very common feature of the teaching profession and is especially difficult to handle for young teachers. the demands of the profession – i. Most students naturally learn the materials that their professors consider appropriate. There are many reasons and causes for teacher stress. administrative burdens. the unreasonable objectives set by either the teacher or the management also contribute to teacher stress. but there is very little time for discussion whether they agree with the techniques and principles they are required to master. finances. They do not have time to discover their own values in connection with learning. Through the study of educational philosophy teachers may gain an insight into the values which influence their . When goal posts keep moving and professionals do not know how to meet the demands and expectations then it is possible to lead to a source of tension for the teacher. She claims that teachers’ poor time management. Then when they are out in schools they return to those practices and values they believe in. They are not certain about their feeling towards education as a profession. This may have many reasons: it may be the rather limited salary. – and of the management. family. This stems from the conflicting values of newly qualified teachers and the school culture in which they need to operate after graduation. Conclusion In this article the writer aimed to call the reader’s attention to a neglected area of teacher education: educational philosophy. This rather comprehensive list. an exposure to a working context that is characterised by overwork. however.e. high number of lessons. are not aware of the importance of the ideological constructs they take to the classroom each time when they teach a class. does not deal with one other important source of teacher stress: values mismatch. e. then the conflicts between these sometimes different systems would be resolved.little time on conceptualising what education really means. they lack the necessary skills of self-reflection and thus. The strong desire to fit in to the existing culture of the school may present an inner conflict for the new teacher who may have some ideas about how education should be perceived. the lack of respect. If teacher education institutions would equip the student teachers with techniques for mapping out their own educational values and evaluate those which are presented for them in their work contexts. It is a fact that many young teachers leave the profession within five years of their graduation.

. Some of the sources of stress can be resolved by introducing a conscious study of educational values and philosophy in the teacher education curricula. as in this field of education learnt educational values – introduced by British or American experts – sometimes clash with local educational values. Educational philosophy and the study of teachers’ values is especially important in ELT. Teaching is a stressful profession.classroom behaviour and which have a significant impact on the context in which they have to operate in.

1995 The New teacher’s Survival Guide. Szebenyi. S.) 1999 English Language Education in Hungary: A Baseline Study Budapest: The British Council Hungary.3: 191-195. London: Kogan Page. MichaelBernard HirdMarion MiltonRhonda OliverAnne Thwaite 1998 Principles and Practices of ESL Teachers: A Study of Teachers of Adults and Children Mount Lawley: Edith Cowan University.References Breen. N. MichaelTrevor KerryCarolle Kerry 1995 The Blackwell Handbook of Education Oxford:Basil Blackwell Ltd. Gerald L. Nathan. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Press. J. Heath. Gutek. Ontario. 1990 “Beyond prescription: the student teacher as investigator” in J. Holliday.40 No. Krasnick. 1987 Second Language Pedagogy Oxford: Oxford University Press.) Second Language Teacher Education Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. R. Péter . S. Ozmon.Oprandy. Michael 1982 The Meaning of Educational Change. Craver 2003 Philosophical Foundations of Education Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education. Fullan. C. HajnalMajor ÉvaNikolov Marianne (eds. Harry 1986 “Images of ELT” in ELT Journal Vol. Samuel M. Adrian 1994 Appropriate Methodology and Social Context Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Issue 1. Fekete. Malderez. 1997 Philosophical and Ideological Perspectives on Education Needham Hights: Allyn & Bacon. Prabhu. AngiCaroline Bodóczky 1999 Mentor Courses: A Resource Book for Trainer Trainers. Howard A. Farell. 34. 37-39. M.Gaitan. Gregory 2002 “Introduction to symposium on globalisation” in Educational Philosophy and Theory Vol. Richards and D Nunan (eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gebhard.

G.3: 193-200. (ed. Scott 1991 “Metaphors we work by: EFL and its metaphors” in ELT Journal Vol.45 No. 1: 19-30.) Classroom Research: AILA Review. J. 1988 “Innovations in foreign language teaching” in Kasper. .1992 “Change in the systems of public education in East Central Europe” in Comparative Education Vol. Wallace. 5. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Thornbury. Wagner. 28 No. Mike 1991 Training Foreign Language Teachers Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

roles of teachers & learners .language . 1999) Language Proficiency Education System School Professional Behaviour plan select / learn review SOCIETY Knowledge about: .Appendix 1.education .activities which promote language learning Understanding of: . The Language Teacher "Iceberg" (Malderez and Bodoczky.language .pupils .language learning beliefs attitudes values feelings CULTURE .