I was invited to give a mini lecture at the primary school where my little boys go about the importance of learning languages. I couldn’t really resist… so I did it. When I first talked with the teacher on the phone, I didn’t really like the idea of lecturing… I was told to tell the children… this concept just doesn’t work for me. I can’t do it, I don’t like it. My approach is more experiential and collaborative. I am a big fan of learning with and from each other!
We probably under-estimate what big brains these little kids carry around and how sophisticated they are to work out things. So, I didn’t deliver a lecture! I knew I just had 5 minutes so it had to work from the first second and it did because while I was introducing myself, I started engaging them – there were 200 of them. Wow! My eldest told me in the morning while we were going together to school ‘mummy don’t be nervous, it will be all right!’ I gave him a big hug and said ‘ευχαριστώ’ (thank you in Greek) – since I always speak Greek with my boys.
And it was ok, more than ok, it went great! The only plan that I had was to engage them throughout the 5min – when it was my turn, I had no idea what would come out of my mouth but whatever I did it worked!
What did I do? Well, looking back now, what I did was instead of telling them why we should be learning languages and what we get out of it – they told me! Throughout the 5 minutes, there was a dialogue, it was a two-way conversation (not a monologue!!!). We all said good morning in different languages, thanks to the different languages the children knew. Heard about friends who live far far away and travels to other countries. We all had a great time and learnt with and from each other through active engagement. It was fascinating how everybody was so keen to share his/her story and nobody wanted it to stop.
Is there really a need for andragogy? Is it right to assume that because these little people have less experience, they are unable or less able to work things out for themselves??? Do children and adults learn differently? And if they do, does this mean that we need a separate learning theory? Do we need to bottle up everything? Anyway, after this 5min interactive lecture and the 2 mini language sessions I delivered at the school I went back to work and couldn’t stop about what happened that morning.
I started making connections, ideas were coming and going and finally I come up with a concrete idea. I would love to establish if new HE lecturers could develop effective lecturing skills by engaging in 5min interactive lectures at Primary School. Our new PGCAP programme just started and I am going to investigate if there is a small group of lecturers who would like to take this idea further. More thinking is, of course, needed but I have a good feeling that this idea will lead somewhere and help new lecturers and also create links between Primary and Higher Education. Am I persuing a silly idea??? I am excited and I hope that some of the PGCAP Participants will be too when I share this idea with them.