Daily Archives: March 22, 2010

Hold Everything Dear: A reply (of sorts) to Diarmuid Fogarty

We hope the poem below answers some of your comments made in reply to our recent piece on Dogme ELT. A somewhat unusual step in a polemic, we know, but we didn’t want readers to revisit the same issues in exactly the same format. Moreover, we are aware that the Dogme discussion list (around which the collective is based) has been devolved to its membership and with this symbolic gesture, Scott Thornbury is giving the Dogme collective more say in how the movement develops. However, it is still our belief, that Dogme ELT is a distraction and despite its avowed commitment to learner needs, it is trapped in the limitations of its own history.

For us, at Marxist TEFL Group, we always seek to explore origins, not dismiss them or treat them lightly. We do not begin with the present and subordinate the future and past to its domination. We do not see language as something we slip in and out of like an off-the-peg clothes range. We see ourselves steeped in history, internalising language which gives shape to our thoughts. Language is an artefact, as is a course book, offering itself up to us to be engaged with in a critical manner. We do not seek to make a fetish of particular teaching techniques. Rather, we see the flow of human relationships in our classrooms, caught in the co-ordinates of time and space; co-ordinates of time and space which grow ever more alien, ever more out synch with basic human needs. To seek refuge from the flow of history in a methodology which is blind to its own history, to the co-ordinates of power, is merely to perpetuate the inequalities of the present.

We call on those who want a critical ELT to build a movement inside ELT which speaks to history, which is capable of understanding and challenging the institutional limits in which we are trapped; a movement capable of looking outside of ELT and connecting with wider progressive movements.

Hold Everything Dear

for John Berger

as the brick of the afternoon stores the rose heat of the journey

as the rose buds a green room to breathe
and blossoms like the wind

as the thinning birches whisper their silver stories of the wind to the urgent in the trucks

as the leaves of the hedge store the light
that the moment thought it had lost

as the nest of her wrist beats like the chest of a wren in the turning air

as the chorus of the earth find their eyes in the sky
and unwrap them in each other in the teeming dark

hold everything dear

the calligraphy of birds across the morning
the million hands of the axe, the soft hand of the earth
one step ahead of time
the broken teeth of tribes and their long place
steppe-scattered and together
clay’s small, surviving handle, the near ghost of a jug
carrying itself towards us through the soil

the pledge of offered arms, the single sheet that is our common walking
the map of the palm held
in a knot
but given as a torch

hold everything dear

the paths they make towards us and how far we open towards them

the justice of a grass that unravels palaces but shelters the songs of the searching

the vessel that names the waves, the jug of this life, as it fills with the days as it sinks to become what it loves

memory that grows into a shape the tree always knew as a seed

the words
the bread

the child who reaches for the truths beyond the door

the yearning to begin again together
animals keen inside the parliament of the world

the people in the room the people in the street the people

hold everything dear

19th May 2005
Gareth Evans


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