Dimitrios Thanasoulas: "The Classroom: Forum or Arena?"


We can imagine what a real strain on the pupils this must be. Consciously or unconsciously, the teacher's posture and facial expressions exude a certain air or mood which often builds up tension and aggravates interaction between teachers and students, and among students themselves. This discrepancy between "bad mood" and the educational objectives relating to cognitive development and emotional equilibrium is in itself pernicious and unprepossessing to cope with, mainly on the part of the student. How can the student feel secure and confident in a hostile, unpredictable environment, in which he / she is to be "seen but not heard"?

He [Paul Ekman] argues that facial expressions for primary emotions, such as surprise, fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and happiness are universally the same and are consequently cross-culturally perceived (Papaconstantinou, 1991: 65).

In all likelihood, a grumpy and severe teacher will produce grumpy and severe or refractory students.

As is evident, a teacher who speaks ex cathedra, exercising his requisite authority to lay down rules which the students must adhere to unquestioningly, does his cause a great disservice. Many generations look back on their school-days with a measure of fear and contempt because they believe that learning means hard work and sacrifice, and teachers' job is to reward or punish. Legitimate though it may be, this belief should be de-suggested by realizing and assuming the correct and healthy role as teachers and learnersța task which will be our concern in the following chapter.

2.2. The roles of the teacher and the learner

One can hardly envisage a language learning situation in the absence of an interaction of the student with his / her fellow students, the teacher and the textbook. Every time the student interacts with any of these sources, she makes various hypotheses about what she is learning, and accepts or rejects them, trying out new ones. In her attempt to learn the foreign language, she is dependent on her co-interactants, as she develops a wide range of strategies which will be tested only in a communicative context. Strategies can be distinguished in three categories: production strategies, comprehension strategies and interactive strategies. We will not explore any of these in the present study. We should only point out the importance of human interaction in the classroom as a condition for successful language learning and intellectual, emotional and social development.

Page - 1     Page + 1

AS/SA Nº 6/7, Article 3 : Page 3 / 10

© 1999, AS/SA

E-mail to the editors
Pour écrire à la rédaction