Dogme Blog Challenge #4 Being Light

Dogme is about teaching 

materials light.

Luke Meddings & Scott Thornbury, Teaching Unplugged, Delta Teacher Development Series, 2009.
Four Unplugged

What does it mean to us as teachers to go into a classroom materials-light? 
Where should all these  light materials magically come from?  
What do you think that Paulo Freire meant when he said that liberating education consists of acts of cognition, not transferrals of information?  Does going in light, as opposed to heavy, change this?  And, what in your opinion, might teaching materials-heavy look like?
How could teachers approach teaching with coursebooks dogmeicly*?
In Meeting of Minds, Stuart McNaughton challenges us with the idea of 'a curriculum that promotes only segmented, isolated, and elemental learning tasks reduces the students' degree of learning (including incedental learning) and also their preparedness for future learning.'   Have you seen this?  Felt it?  How do your students cope when the real-life need to speak in English crops up in their lives: can textbooks ever prepare them adequately for these experiences? Can being light?
Thinking about your colleagues and staffrooms along with your classrooms - do you think it is the teachers or students who favour most grammar based curriculums?  For either, why? Do we need to unlearn them?

The Blog Posts Challenge #4
      Read previous Challenge blog posts:
      Read Next in the Challenge series

      Since its inception, Dogme has had the reputation of being a movement whose goal it is, if not actually to burn coursebooks, at least to banish them from the classroom, along with any other materials and technological aids that teachers now take for granted.  But it is worth emphasising at this point that a Dogme approach is not anti-materials nor anti-technology per se. What it rejects are those kinds of materials and aids that don't conform with the principles of Dogme.   (Meddings L. & Thornbury S., Teaching Unplugged, 2009)

       Video with Scott Thornbury:

      What is all this about? 
      The Dogme Blog Challenge + links to the blogs discussing Dogme
      The dogma of Dogme - background info & links
      Dogme ELT - other stuff I've written on Dogme

      How to share on Twitter:  use the #dogmeme hashtag

      How to share your fellow teachers' blog posts with each other?  Add/link to the blog(s) written on the subject on your post so they form a ring and your readers can travel on from post to post!

      How to respond?

      Comment below with short thoughts
      Go to your nearest yahoo!group and share your opinions
      with like-minded teaching colleagues

      Blog it:
      Write a list or tell a story, 
      compare lessons: dogme and non-dogme, 
      relate an experience, a contrary opinion,
      quote research, your own theory,
      submit mere musings, rant...
      share an idea, a paragraph, a dictionary's definition
      come up with a clever sentence,
      a beautiful photograph,

      a video-log
      an article or draft the bones of an essay, 
      share examples from your own classroom experience...

      In short, be dogmeic: personalize  your response!)

      Important URLs to quote/link to in your post (if necessary):
      • Dogme myths 
      • Teaching Unplugged:
      • Scott Thornbury's website + articles:
      • Scott Thornbury's blog:
      • Luke Meddings' blog:
      • Luke Meddings' on the Delta blog:
      • Dogme ELT in Wikipedia:

      disclaimer: dogmeic and dogmeicly aren't words. I made them up.

        9 Responses to “Dogme Blog Challenge #4 Being Light”

        • Tobius says:
          October 28, 2010

          I agree that good education is more 'acts of cognition' than 'transferals of information.' But, on the other hand, we teach a language that has it's own standards external to the classroom. (I can't let students logically decide we're going to start calling the thing that supports their coffee cups the 'cup holder' when you'd normally call it a 'table') And, so, yeah, information transfer.

          I think materials lite means sticking to those materials that encourage--rather than discourage--communication. For me, that means all 'read this and discuss' is broken up into 'read this at home and come ready to discuss' and the best materials are the ones that get the students speaking to each other, relying on the teacher only to toss in the language they're trying to use.

          These, for me, are most often games. Or the kind of worksheet that has them collaboratively designing a business. (I keep telling them that I'm waiting for my students to get one good idea for me to steal.) Or, a list of household items and prices, so that they can negotiate how they'd spend €500 for a month's supplies.

          I'm not a dogme-ist. But, I do think that I'm teaching students to communicate and that materials that isolate students have no place in a classroom. (Students can use them at home!)

        • Nick Jaworski says:
          October 29, 2010

          I'll probably blog on this more fully, but essentially dogme is materials light because it is learner-centered. The more materials people seem to use the more disconnected teachers are from students and students are from each other. A materials light approach is one that looks at the classroom as a community and puts the relationships built in that classroom to the fore.

        • Adam says:
          October 30, 2010

          These series of challenges have given me so much to think about, Karenne. Quite simply, thank you.

          I feel privileged to have moved to your 'I learn from these' section.

        • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
          October 30, 2010

          Sorry for taking so long to get back to you Toby, am juggling a couple of things at the moment and probably shouldn't have kicked off this series of challenges at this particular moment in time... except that is so enjoyable and interesting finding out what others think! I'll also respond to your other comment on the water post in a mo'

          But I thought that it was so interesing that you said that we can't let our students call a table a cup holder. I have had the same thoughts too except from the perspective that we actually create names for things that are not yet there - when we need to express something - but that step, the naming of a thing, doesn't occur until we know for sure that there isn't already a word for that... and usually our "new" word emerges out of a need to describe the process which will help us to communicate the function or process hence why we go to older languages for the stems to these new words. I include in that words like kindergarden (based on German) to google...

          But I digress enormously from the rest of your comment because I completely agree with you on the "preparation" for dogme classes: do it at home! do everything that you can not do in the classroom with me (i.e. talk) at home!

          I know you're not dogmeist... well, I know you think you're not... but as long as you think your students should be learning in an environment where communication is the principle reason for teaching and learning then we're probably talking about more or less the same thing!


        • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
          October 30, 2010

          Hey Nick,

          Looking forward to your post (as I do always) and yes, essentially, that's all dogme is really, apart from any of the exploration - it's learner centered.


          Hi Adam,

          Thank you!! That's really nice to hear and cheers to your blog - you're really keeping up a great resource and am happy to have you on my roll. It's also really good for me to have quality bloggers to pass my readers on to, obviously!

        • Unknown says:
          October 31, 2010

          Hum. To me "light" means : not a burden. Not a burden for students, and not a burden for me, the teacher. So a simple USB stick for me (very light indeed!), and materials which will *help* students learn, because they can *use* the materials to make the language their own, to the point where they can even play with it and enjoy it fully. Voilà my 2p.

          Alice M

        • DaveDodgson says:
          October 31, 2010

          Hi Karenne,

          I wanted to write a post about this challenge over the weekend but didn't have time so I recorded a video instead! Although that was quicker, it's been 'queued for processing' for an age already so I'll have to post it tomorrow instead.


        • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
          October 31, 2010

          Ooh, that sounds good! Looking forward to it! DM when it's up :-)

        • Tara Benwell says:
          November 01, 2010

          Just blogged on how all of this dogme talk is helping us make important decisions about the content (and options) in RRP's digital library. I'm excited about the future! Thanks for these challenges Karenne. Your blog is such an important tool for professional development.


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