Teaching my 2eD from 2015-16 was rather daunting and challenging for me. I had never
had a class before in which nobody spoke up or raised their hand to contribute to the lesson.
I was facing twenty-eight learners, intelligent and academically successful, including seven
whom I had already taught in 4e and 3e the previous years, and who appeared to equally
have lost their will to express their thoughts in class. I felt very lost and helpless. How could
I prepare them for their 1e if they refused to share their ideas openly, a prerequisite to
building some collective level of understanding regarding current news and literature?
I changed strategies, more than once, and tried to adjust my teaching to their needs. In
order to discover the learners’ preferences and learning styles, I tried to communicate with
them on very personal levels, I used all the teaching strategies I knew, methods that
assumedly enhance speaking, teaching styles that are very emotional by engaging and
valuing the student as an individual, and by putting emphasis on the topic of the lesson to
engross my learners.
I questioned, and severely doubted myself. Was my approach not sensible, or sensitive,
enough? Maybe I didn’t ask the right questions? I tried to help, I bribed, penalized, tried to
reason with them, and openly asked them to tell me what they needed.
I invited them to write me letters explaining their problems. (Some of them are available in
the Appendix, p.109) I analysed and speculated, I asked fellow teachers and literature for
help. The students opened up only to a small extent. The blame, so they told me, was to
be put on social issues and classroom dynamics, and, to a lesser extent, on lesson content.
At that moment, they said nothing, and I talked a lot. I was giving lectures, because they
were listening and writing. The issue herein is, however, that my students regurgitated
teachers’ ideas in the test. We only learnt very little from each other since the social
dimension of learning – the exchange of ideas between students – was missing. Since
learning is not merely a cognitive, but also a social endeavour, my students could not use
and develop their complete potential. As they refused to verbally participate in the lesson,
I was looking for teaching solutions that acknowledged them as individuals and allowed for