Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of presenting a paper, along with my colleague Ioanna Gkourogianni, at the 1st National Conference for Model-Experimental Schools (link now defunct) in Thessaloniki (Greece).
In our presentation, we problematised the function of Model-Experimental schools. At present, it seems that these schools function primarily as Models in a top-down system, i.e., educational spaces where mainstream educational ideology is given shape, perfected in the form of ‘best practices’, and displayed for the benefit of other schools. Using empirical data from an initiative to teach English to Very Young Learners, we teased out a number of tensions between mainstream educational ideology (as regards English Language Teaching) and the needs and expectations of the local community. We argued that such tensions could lead to ‘tissue rejection’ (Holliday, 1992) and argued for shifting the emphasis of these schools towards their Experimental function i.e., for reconceptualising them as educational spaces where new bottom-up initiatives are generated. Drawing on Kumaravadivelu (2003), we feel that such initiatives, which are driven by practice rather than theory, and which are sensitive to the particularity of the context, offer a far more empowering model for education in Greece.
If you are interested in finding out more about our presentation, you can follow the links to access a pre- peer-review version of our paper and a modified version of our presentation.
Holliday, A. (1992). Tissue rejection and informal orders in ELT Projects: Collecting the right information. Applied Linguistics, 13(4), 403-424. doi: 10.1093/applin/13.4.403
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond methods: Macrostrategies for language teaching. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Featured Image: © PhotoIoannina used with permission