It distresses me that by writing this post I might make some people annoyed. That’s why I’d like to reassure the reader in advance that it is not my intention – this post is not aimed at specific people. Please, don’t take any of this personally.
It’s that I just noticed something. Maybe it’s always been around and it’s recently become salient for me, for god-knows-what reasons. Maybe it’s actually me who takes things personally. The trouble is that everywhere I look I come across a mention or a plethora of mentions of a certain internationally recognised teaching qualification. I don’t mean the type of posts or articles where the author looks at things with a critical eye and questions the current status quo. I’m talking about the type of discourse which people use to promote something they deem good. I’d like to stress that I can fully understand why teachers, who I respect and admire, are proud to have achieved this particular qualification. I’m convinced that the experience was challenging and beneficial. What bugs me then?
I remember I first heard of this highly rewarded qualification at the start of my MA programme a couple of years ago. During the introductory speech the DoS said in passing: “Yes, and by the way, I shouldn’t forget to mention that your two-year intensive course leading to an MA degree will actually be less valued than the four-week X course.” Although I was a little surprised by his rather cruel off-topic remark, I didn’t actually care very much because I was thrilled to be taking part in a programme of my dreams, and nothing else mattered to me then. Anyway, I didn’t even know what course he was talking about.
After my graduation, a brand new horizons opened for me; I met lots of wonderful people (my precious PLN) and I started learning from them. However, I also realised that the DoS was right. You know, I can’t help feeling excluded at times. I mean, when I’m going through the topics of an upcoming ELT-related Twitter chat and see that one, or even two, of them are directly related to the highly rewarded teaching qualification, I can’t but feel discouraged. How am I going to contribute to the discussion if the topic wins? I’ll be automatically excluded. It would be similar to suggest a topic in which people would be asked to discuss the following question: What are the benefits of using Headway? Why did I choose it and how do I work with it in class? Pardon? I don’t use Headway! How on earth can I discuss the topic? And are Headway users a special group?
This reminds me that I once came across a remark that you can never provide truly valuable feedback on an observed lesson unless you hold a certain certificate and not another. Wow. This has really stuck with me. At times it feels like there are two groups out there – the one which consists of the said certificate holders and the other one including those who did a different teaching qualification. It’s Us and the Others.
I felt a similar controversy when people discussed what blog creation tool is best to use. The discussion eventually narrowed down to two tools. It’s quite obvious that you can only say which of the two options is better if you try both of them. Otherwise you can only say what is good for you. If you like something, for whatever reason, you obviously tend to promote it and recommend it. This is absolutely fine. But once you start feeling that you are attracted to one option just because it’s been chosen by the majority out there, you should become alert. Why do you feel like that?
My point is that any type of discourse can become inherently biased. Moreover, by promoting something we like as the only and the best option we may be actually promoting somebody’s profitable business. And those owning the business must be rubbing their hands together. Because honestly, the things I’ve discussed in my post are profitable businesses and I believe that’s how they should be looked at.