This is an excellent talk and a great opportunity to hear an expert discuss the latest ideas. Below you will find my focused summary on the talk and my reflection, which I hope will inspire you to develop your own thoughts.
Thornbury, an internationally recognized academic, gives a great talk on what the greatest method is. The talk itself, 49 minutes long, is quite simple. Thornbury takes us back to look at old books going as far back as the 1920’s and examines some of the ideas taught there and reflects on some of the methodology revealing that many of the ideas we use today were utilized then on the basis of the idea that the textbook carries the method that is used in the classroom in order to articulate his main argument.
He argues that we should not get stuck in any particular method. He quotes James Spiro (2013 (39:30) who suggests that teachers should commit to a method but then should expand and grow based on his/her teaching experience to ensure he/she is making a positive difference.
Carrying from this he suggests that teachers are more important than the method. Thornbury further quotes D. William (2011), “A bad curriculum well taught is invariable a better experience for students than a good curriculum badly taught: pedagogy trumps curriculum.” In other words, he reinforces the idea that the teacher and his/her pedagogy are the most effective way of teaching. Thornbury emphasizes what matters is how things are taught rather than what is taught.
I find the talk fascinating and it really made me reflect on the idea that there is no right answer. It certainly has been a thought I often considered: “what is the right answer?” Even though, I have taken the road of taking many different methodologies and techniques into consideration, I have often questioned some approaches and looked down on them in my career and believed that my ideas were best. That has both made me an excellent teacher and I have certainly received great feedback from my students. However, it has also made me dismissive towards other teachers and this an area in which I could grow and develop in terms of taking more steps towards understanding their approaches and strategies. Also, I believe it is important for teachers to work as part of a team and to respect one another’s work and aim to learn from another, not as a unique opportunity to study, or a chance to critique, but as a sober routine reflection exercise how different pedagogies can be effective.