An Astounded Comment on “Copy Cat” by Anthony Gaughan

I always read Anthony Gaughan’s posts with great interest, and the post Copy Cat is no exception! But this time I was literally flabbergasted to read that he and his colleagues are criticized for modeling lessons to their student teachers.


O,K, I teach in an Israeli High-School, not a British Language School and don’t know my “Delta” from my “Celta”. For me “DOS” still sounds like something I used to have in my computer before Windows.  Perhaps I’m commenting on something I shouldn’t be due to a supposed lack of knowledge.

But I’ve been teaching for 26 years, have had quite a lot of student teachers (have one now, too!) and am a teacher’s counselor.

I have reached two conclusions.

The first is that no one can EXACTLY imitate the way you teach even if you want them to do so. Teaching is something that involves the teacher’s personality to a large extent. Over time the methods the trainee refers to as “my teacher’s methods” will only partially resemble mine. Every teacher develops his /her own style.

In addition, each trainee doesn’t have to keep inventing  the wheel! A new teacher needs to start with some useful, tried and true methods in his /her toolbox of teaching skills. Over time, according to the teaching situations and the students’ needs, the teacher will add other methods and perhaps even discard some of the early ones. But surely it is the responsibility of any training course to model lessons so that that trainees have what to start with!

it is most certainly desirable that trainees be exposed to a number of teachers modeling lessons. But I cannot imagine training done without it at all.

3 thoughts on “An Astounded Comment on “Copy Cat” by Anthony Gaughan”

  1. Well said Naomi! I would also add that observations are the main things I learn from, and surely that’s just another word for modelling!

  2. Thank you Naomi! I agree with you and Sandy that observational learning is powerful, effective and necessary (not to mention, as Darridge commented on my blog post, actually unavoidable!)

    To be fair, the criticism we got was very fair-minded and in the spirit of professional enquiry, but it did essentially take the view that explicit presentations of method or technique by tutors could be seen as jug-n-mug and top-down training, which in many respects I try to avoid.

    But short intensive courses like CELTA do come in for some criticism for being dogmatic (as opposed to dogmetic!) and some go so far as saying that there is a “CELTA way of teaching” – which usually collotes ritualistic implementation of technique at the expense of supposed “true learning”, hammered into poor trainees by “drill instructor” tutors in a “Boot Camp” scenario akin to the first hour of the film Full Metal Jacket.

    This view is warped and unrepresentative, but it is widespread. The idea of tutors actively demonstrating “good practice” can very easily be seen as a handmaiden of such brutal (however unfounded) images.


  3. Sandy!
    Glad you feel the same!
    Anthony! My impression of such criticism is that they are throwing out the baby with the bath water! I follow your posts regularly and in my humble opinion you shouldn’t listen to such criticisms – you know what you are doing!

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