Sunday, October 08, 2006

total time law

The Total Time Law is a teaching principle, which, back in the days when i did more active research on teaching itself, I found in a backwater article in an out-of-the-way place. Why do i remember it? I'm not sure. I'm not even sure if I could find it again, or, if I remember it correctly.

What it said, if I recall correctly, was that the amount of time you spend teaching a particular point determines to some degree the likelihood that students will learn it, because it demonstrates by the time itself that it is important. That is, if you spend two hours teaching participles, students are more likely to learn them than if you spend only half an hour, regardless of how effective your teaching is, simply because the longer time demonstrates to them that it is more important.

Where this becomes important is that some programs have put grammar within other classes and no longer teach grammar explicitly, in a class that is labelled "grammar"- but ours does. Geography buffs had a major complaint when geography was not given a specific class in the public schools- and in fact grammar had the same problem in American schools- it was never explicitly taught. I wonder if it would be a reflection of the Total Time Law to say that such treatment of a subject should probably not turn out well for the student's ultimate mastery of that skill. But I'm not sure that's true. Do students do worse in grammar in curricula that do not have explicit grammar classes? This question goes to the essence of Krashenism, I guess, but even now, I can't answer it. I've noticed people don't have passionate discussions about curricular issues- or maybe I just don't attract them, because I can no longer really believe that these issues make much difference ultimately. It would be interesting, however, to know the facts.



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