A Look At How Public Schools Make Kids Hate Thinking
Michel didn’t like the school system a.k.a. the mind prison.
Look at these negative suggestions that are drilled into you in the public school system and college and tell me how much freedom, curiosity and joy they inspire…
Learning means hard work…
Learning means trying hard…
Learning creates pain…
Learning requires concentrated effort…
Learning demands study…
Learning generates tension…
Learning requires homework…
Learning creates anxiety…
Learning requires memorizing and learning by rote…
Learning requires cramming for tests and being examined…
And worst of all . . . Your future depends on learning and whether you’re going to succeed in life depends on whether or not you succeed here and if you fail here you will fail miserably in everything you do!
Did you have these beliefs rammed down our throat every day you went to school?
And I believe they unintentionally did their best to make me hate the process of learning. They almost won. And despite their best efforts, I stand here today sharing what I learn from studying every day.
This list of garbage beliefs above are the doctrine that’s drilled into the minds of children in the dis-educational system. And living as many decades as he had, he saw three democracies fall and he blamed the public education system for their collapse.
These beliefs and the environment are designed to create tension and stress. Children are given all sorts of negative programming and their self esteem is tied up with their success or lack thereof in the mind prison.
It’s no wonder that our desire for learning is destroyed and we stop doing it as soon as no one is forcing us to attend a dis-educational institution.
Surviving the disastrous dis-educational system is the ultimate testament to the resiliency of humans; that we endure such a disastrous system and come out the other side relatively sane and healthy people. That, is the real miracle.
Here’s How “The Michel Thomas” Approach Differs From “The Mind Prison” Approach
Michel was a renegade who didn’t want to play by “The Herd’s” rules. He pretty much took the opposite view to learning which is what allowed for his students to achieve such rapid progress.
One of his primary goals was to relieve the learning environment of tension.
Here’s how it wasn’t business as usual when teaching content with Michel:
1. You Always Start With What The Student Already Knows
You connect what you want people to learn to the familiar. To learn is assimilate and connect up so this led him to begin with the known.
2. Have a Sharpened Awareness of One’s Own First Language
One of the huge problems with learning a foreign language is not even knowing how to properly speak your own.
3. Learn How To Speak Using Correct Grammar
If you’re going to learn to speak, you want to learn to speak right first, then add the slang and shortcuts later.
4. Learn It Right The First Time
It is far more difficult to unlearn than to learn. As a matter of fact, he refused to teach people who’d been taught the language previously.
5. The Heart of The Language Is The Verbs
6. Build Meaningful Associations Based On Memory
For everything Michel would teach he come up with analogies and metaphors so that you could automatically remember instead of trying to remember.
7. Teach For Understanding; Not For Memorization
8. Teach For Acquisition of Knowledge
The Enlightened Learning Environment
Michel would bring you in where you were seated in comfortable easy chairs . . . there was no black board . . . there were no flip charts . . . there was no writing material in the room . . . there were no desks because you were not going to be taking any notes . . . there was no written material . . . there was no homework . . . there was no writing . . . and there was no trying to remember anything.
You would come in and he would first ask you to first make yourself comfortable.
He would then say . . .
“Let go of any tension you may have. This course is about understanding and knowledge; not about memorization. Never, never try to remember. You don’t forget what you know. You may block it but you don’t forget it.
In this course there is no need to take notes. There is no homework but there may be research projects.
There are no texts and no examinations. THE TEACHER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND REMEMBERING. (the exact opposite of what goes on in the dis-educational system where the student gets blamed by the lazy teachers – in this world, the teacher and the teacher alone is responsible for your remembering and your understanding)
If you don’t remember or understand, it’s the teachers fault. It’s not your fault. The teacher will find out why you don’t remember or understand and will know what to do about it. Just sit back and experience the joys of learning.”
?So once again, Michel’s whole method is teacher-centric:
?So the teacher is responsible for mistakes that occur – any mistakes are Michel’s problem; not the student’s problem.
?Responsibility for learning is Michel’s problem; not the student’s problem.
?Learning and remembering are Michel’s problem; not the student’s problem.
?Michel is at fault; never the student.
?The student’s problems are none; All the student is responsible for is being there and participating.
Within Spanish, Italian, French or German there are lot of common words with different pronunciation so he would start with these words along with words you could very quickly master. This would lead to you being able to speak long sentences very quickly.
This led to you having a sense of accomplishment very fast – within the first hour of being in the room.
And he did this with no text book, no note taking, no emphasis on remembering.
How This Master Deals With His Students Mistakes
So you and I know he believes that if the student makes a blunder, Michel takes 100% of the blame.
And at another level he didn’t want the student to know they’d made a blunder because we only got 7 + 2 or -2 chunks of attention and your attention can be on one of two places – correction mode or it can be in peak performance/improvement mode.
If you make mistakes it triggers the part of you that is cautious, on guard and your focus is turned to correction mode. This is no good. You want all of your attention on improvement mode.
If the student knew the right answer they wouldn’t make the mistake.
So when a student makes a mistake he would not immediately correct the mistake. So the student mispronounces, they didn’t know they have and Michel knows it’s a mistake.
He would then ask himself, “What would have to be the case for the student to make that mistake? What did they fail to remember or did they not understand?”
He would make a note of this in his mind and he would go back and review what they hadn’t understood or forgotten without the student knowing the reason he was doing so and when the student came to what they’d said wrong the student would be able to correct themselves.
He found that the best way to learn was to correct yourself and to do it without having seen that you’d made a mistake when you’d made it. The dis-educational system is all about pointing out your mistakes and making you feel bad about them. Michel never made anyone feel bad about anything. He took all the blame and responsibility.
So with this process you learned all the tenses and had a functional vocabulary in three days and during the last two days you would converse with a native speaker of the language.
How Do You Teach More In Less Time?
Michel was a master at layering. He didn’t have a label for this like Wyatt and his wife did but I’ll tell you what it means. At any moment when you’re teaching you’re doing one of three things:
1) You’re pre-teaching.
You pre-teach without labeling what it is. You teach it in a simple context where people understand it.
2) You formally teach
3) Then you go back and periodically review
When he encountered the students he placed them in three categories in his mind:
The Openly Hostile…
But before this he talked about French and how it was spoken in Africa and how important it was and the role it played in black culture in history and how if they had this language they could converse in many places in the world.
For those who don’t know, Watts is the predominantly black area of Los Angeles and so he was seeking out a way to make this language relevant to his audience. Then he began his process.
He started out by getting the shy people to participate. And what was happening was that by participating some of these kids were getting their very first experience of succeeding in a class room as a result of speaking some fairly complex sentences in a foreign language in a very short period of time.
Next, he worked at activating the bored people. Now his teaching was different because he would only teach by direct eye contact. He didn’t have people raise their hand. The way you knew to respond to him was he would look at you and you would answer. Only eye contact.
And he would see in his peripheral vision who wasn’t listening then he would call on that person with his focus next and put them on the spot to tell him what had just been said. They of course, couldn’t answer and he would ask them, “Well, why didn’t know the answer?” And they would tell him they didn’t remember and he would say, “No. It’s because you weren’t listening and paying attention.”
This yanked people into paying attention not wanting be clueless if they were called on. He used peer pressure to get the bored/distracted people to give him the time of day.
At the end of his first day, he had two-thirds of the class hooked. The next day he wanted to direct his focus towards bringing the troublemakers onboard. The way he did this is he told them, “If you want to be here, sit down and participate. If you don’t, go ahead and leave.”
Kids were always wandering the halls and if they came into the classroom he welcomed them to sit down and participate, or get the hell out. What he did next was turn the trouble makers into the class cops who were telling people to sit and behave and telling people to get out if they were disrupting their learning.
And after doing this, he wasn’t suited with the progress because the kids weren’t 100% on board. They were waaay better than before but they were still screwing around more than he preferred they would.
The Supreme Strategy For Making Learning Stick
There are so many limitations in our mind. Boredom sets in when we don’t a sense of having accomplished something.
Michel’s method is dialogical – He’s asking questions so there’s always a dialogue back and forth and this is his way of making sure you understand and noting down what you misunderstand and figuring out what caused them to misunderstand or forget and then weaving review back into the lesson till the answered the question right.
12-15 interactions between the teacher and student per minute happen in Direct Instruction – one of the best methods of education available to classrooms (that no one uses that you should pursue if you want your kids to be learning).
When a person needs to be ready to be called on, they listen at a whole different level.
With you any subject you’re going to teach, Michel believed you first needed to start off with blocked teaching – no fifty minute periods, you would instead take something like 6 weeks to study it (both times he’s talked about this he’s been this vague about the topic so I’m with you on wanting more), You would find out the major concepts that you need to understand, and you would teach the concepts through a back and forth exchange of questions and answers.
This allows you to uncover where people are confused and teach them correctly before the idea was too doctrine in their mind. Another bonus about this process is that it allows people to feel like they’re making progress as they answer you correctly and correct themselves.
Summation Of How To Use Michel’s Strategy To Learn A Language
1. Concentrate on speaking the language – forget about learning to read or write it initially
2. Learn to speak grammatically correct
3. Look for the real patterns of speech opposed to the grammatical patterns
4. Have a profound knowledge of your own language
He mastered 10 languages and I believe he learned to teach all 10 and if not somewhere close to that.
So if you want to learn to speak Spanish, French, Italian, or German fast AND see what he does that’s different and get a direct experience of him, go get his courses but make sure they’re him doing the teaching and not “The Michel Thomas Method”.
Source: Michel Thomas Method