ELTchat Etymology and Dogme flies


Just participated in another great #eltchat on how to avoid “death” by coursebooks, and here’s @LizziePinard summary of all those awesome sparks:  http://t.co/3eJJbcQ. For me the core of the event goes beyond all of the great ideas.  It lies within the  community, and it’s amazing to be connected with so many educators, and to be able to exchange our diverse experiences.


Today, while sharing with folks all over the world, I saw a tweet that made a language geek like me go    ” YEEEAAA boom SHaKaLaKa !!!! ”     I’ll explain why below.


Packed in 140 characters is my entire teaching philosophy, as well as my life philosophy.


the words that leaped out were scientific and humanize…


Science and Humans,


or etymologically speaking-


Separating and Connecting


A philosophy of Balance in Contrast has been described in many ways before…



As always, I feel like we’re going to need to go to the roots to better under-stand, so… off on another journée in language, and checking out the etymological roots of:



How does the word science make you feel ?

Actually, is it a word without feeling?


Hasn’t much of science’s efforts aimed at removing us from interaction, moving towards objectivity and separating any human emotion/opinion/non-factual observation?

Ironically, the etymology of Science might just reflect this.  I remember an odd moment when I first started learning french at a wee age of 14— a funny word resemblance that made me go “huh”…

science… scier

Scier in french means “to cut”.  In latin it is Scire, in sanskrit, chyáti, “he cuts”, and finally in Iranian a scían, is a knife.    I   ♥  Indo-European language family similarities.

But back to science as a cutter. Much of modern science’s dissecting of the world comes from a fella by the name of Réné Descartes, one of the “fathers” of the scientific revolution. Ever heard someone say “Cartesian world view”, “I think therefore I am”, or how about this

Yep, Réné made you learn this in school


Descartes’s brilliance left many traces.  He contributed to a new world view, breaking from “Aristotelian theory that matter was continuous and made up of the elements— Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Aether” and that it was actually divisible or “atomistic or corpuscular“ (from wikipedia)



Homo sapiens are we in scientific terminology :)


The latin word, humus, means soil/ground, so homo sapiens are the KNOWING or wise earthy ones.   Sapiens comes from sapidus in latin, a FASCINATING etymology in and of itself, which provides “sapere” in italian= to know, as well as “sage” or wise one.  This definition of us provides a connection to the world.  We are not separate, but “of the earth”.  Nature is not “out there”, but a part of us, as we are a part of it… a leaf on a tree, a wave in the sea.  :)

Just for fun— humiliate— to put someone down— closer to the earth.  Someone who is humble— don’t see themselves higher than others.


Let’s resume what this adds to the discussion

Coursebooks are a logical way for us to make progress in class (progress is fine post-scientific revolution word too!)

No, that’s not what I’m trying to say… coursebooks are a way to “ground our studies scientifically”…

Umm… I mean… do we need coursebooks?  Do we need to separate ourselves from the learning.  Do we need to have something to hold onto?  Do we need to “control” ?




Can we go DOGME and have our students OWN the learning without extraneous material, as states the “first commandment” in the intro of Teaching Unplugged by Scott Thornsbury?

“Teaching should be done using only the resources that teachers and students bring to the classroom – ie themselves – and whatever happens to be in the classroom.”


I don’t know.  I’ve been successful with and without books in class, as I have with and without technology.  Likewise, I’ve better understood the world and humans both with and without science.  Though, honestly, I prefer the “green” “organic” “natural” feeling to dogme and to leaving science and its dissections behind and focusing on connection, on the mother earth, on the air that we all breathe and how it is all one. Yes, I’m a hippy.


Lastly, might Dogme need a bit more “scientific proof of success” to bring a bit more dogme to the world ?




I want to be a fly on the wall of @Chucksandy ‘s dogme classroom and see how he and his students are “owning” language.  AND, I’m not the only one…

Chuck has a better direction, though.

So, how can we all COLLABORATE on something good, fun, “humane” and dogmatic?  Feel free to share your ideas/proposals here within the comments.

I’m game for anything ! :)

Cheers, b

OOoooo…. one last dogme fly just joined b4 i published ! LOL


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--- i'm a learner-teacher, language geek, outdoorsy kind-of-guy --- U might miss the next tweet... Wanna subscribe by email ? ;-)
  • Adam

    Wow, Brad. This is an excellent post. I don’t know how you managed to rattle it off so soon after the #ELTchat but this is great stuff. I’m honored that my tweet could have played any part in making such a blog post. I have to rush off now, but I’ll be back with more of a comment later.


  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    I’m glad you could be the spark to this post too ! Hope it gets the ball-rolling on more exchange/dynamic approach to how folks are using dogme in the classrooms, at least among us dogme flies. :) AND when it’s language stuff it just flows and I can’t get enough. Same for philosophy (phil-love soph-wisdom). Thanks for stopping by Adam. Cheers, b

  • http://civitaquana.blogspot.com Janet

    Hi Brad

    I second Adam, WOW!!! This is really hot off the press and so brilliantly expressed! I love the wordle image (great for word building) and it would also make a FAB Dogme lesson just on its own. The roots of all these words are so fascinating . It’s great to see how one quote from Chuck Sandy could generate such a fascinating, insightful and philosophic post. Hats off to you!!

    Many thanks for the mention :)

  • http://www.mikejharrison.com Mike

    Coooooooooool stuff, Brad!

    I certainly think there’s more to say and be said about dogme, just like anything really. I’m not quite sure how to go about ‘defining’ it (not sure if html formatting is possible here, and not risking it) à la Diarmuid’s call to question in his post, or even if it can be defined – should declare a little of my position here: I see it, much as Luke and Scott suggest, as a way of being a teacher, and just sort of letting go, but a letting go, where you still are present in the moment, where you can ‘get’ where the learner is, and accompany them where they want to go. Candy made a great description of dogme teaching: basically the learner has the keys, and there are various ‘doors’ which the teacher can then open. Whatever’s behind the door is your lesson/course/dogme moment. She says it better, and says it here: http://youtu.be/DYW7r4FgaOM

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey DUDE (strong american accent required)

    Glad you liked it. Thanks for the link, I’ve earmarked it for later.

    It’s natural and also ironic that we’re seeking to deFINe dogme (notice the FIN in deFINe… or FINish, cutting the inFINity out of that precious idea). Once something is defined it loses dynamic nature and becomes the finger pointing at the moon and not the moon itself. Then again, to under-stand, do we need that scientific separation to better grasp the whole, or in this instance, box in dogme to be able to better use it?

    I’m such a newbie at dogme and I’m understanding it so far through “feeling”. How I sensed the speakers at IATEFL, and how I react to what I’ve seen them and others write since. I’m excited to learn more because it is an attractive philosophy to me. It’s full of gooey human interaction and presence. I like that.

    Lastly, your words, and the idea of cutting/defining the world made me think of one of my favorite quotes from the alchemist by Coelho:

    “Because people become fascinated with pictures and words, and wind up forgetting the Language of the World.”

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Janet ! I really do appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    In the same way that we can analyze the depth of any written sentence, so we can the depth of human interaction, in the classroom for example. These are the kinds of things I was pointing at when I was talking about “scientific analaysis” of Dogme.

    It’d be interested to see how students are reacting in different kinds of classroom formats and how we can better understand all these different approaches. I love this einstein quote where he’s talking about schools:

    The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to important fields for society. Such a school demands from the teacher that he be a kind of artist in his province. Albert Einstein

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Janet ! I really do appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    In the same way that we can analyze the depth of any written sentence, so we can the depth of human interaction, in the classroom for example. These are the kinds of things I was pointing at when I was talking about “scientific analaysis” of Dogme.

    It’d be interested to see how students are reacting in different kinds of classroom formats and how we can better understand all these different approaches. I love this einstein quote where he’s talking about schools:

    The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to important fields for society. Such a school demands from the teacher that he be a kind of artist in his province. Albert Einstein

  • http://twitter.com/naomishema Naomi Epstein

    We always say the at the “cutting edge” of science – never knew the words “science” and “cut” were related!

    In a HIGH-QUALITY coursebook there IS a lot of “science”. A lot of thought has been put into issues such as the order in which to present things so that they can be understood easily, creating texts that recycle previously taught vocabulary and only add a controlled amount of new vocabulary, etc.

    As someone who sees “Dogme” favorably indeed, I find a good coursebook can be a useful tool. Just the teacher should not be limited by it! Even in the best ones the teacher must choose parts, skip around, ignore things or use exercises in ways other than the author intended.

    Just have to ask one thing – does “Hummus” (the chick-pea spread) fit in here too? LOL!

  • http://profiles.google.com/patjack67 Patrick Jackson

    Chuck puts his laptop in the middle of the classroom with you on the Skype screen (and projected up onto the big screen if possible. He sits back as the students arrive and discover Brad there. They ask Chuck sensei but he just shrugs. What will they do? Will you become an integrated part of the class? How much will they find out about you. I mean…a total stranger there amongst them. Will they care? I’ve done this kind of activity with real friends dropping in to my classes. Sure you have too. Wonder if it changes the dynamic/makes them more confident when you’re just on a screen. I’ve been thinking a lot lately of offering myself in this way. I reckon it would be a real laugh if nothing else. Anyone tried this? Talk about an information gap activity. Count me in too!

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Naomi! A journée in language isn’t complete without you! merci 1000 fois :)

    Again, like I said to mike, i’m such a newbie with the dogme approach, but I do feel your idea of having a framework (be it your ideas or a coursebook) could be positive as long as the emphasis is on perceiving SS reaction and allowing them to uncover their own drive and needs moment by moment.

    I’ve wondered about “hummus” too ever since I first read the human etymology a decade ago… never seen hard data. Wikipedia says it comes from حمّص‎ḥummuṣ in Arabic. Cheers, b


  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Patrick. Thanks for your comment, and for picking up on the drive of this post— which is to crowdsource ideas for collaborating dogme approaches in class.

    I love your idea, but maybe that’s just silly me and stunts as you’ve described. Chuck did actually invite me to join his class via skype during #eltchat and then when many others expressed their desire to be a “dogme fly on the wall”, the idea grew larger.

    I’ve actually never done skype, but I’ve had my mom on the phone once or twice while I was in class in China… again a fun stunt :) Cheers, b

  • http://sowingdandelions.wordpress.com/ Cintia Stella


    You wrote “It’s amazing to be connected with so many educators, and to exchange our experiences.”
    A lot has been said about this already, but I won’t stop praising this not only
    wonderful but also humble network of teachers. The word humble reminds me of another word that I read in a book a while back and that struck me: Genshai. As far as I understand, it means that we are all equal, that we should never treat anyone in a way that makes them feel small, including oneself. You, and the rest of the teachers with whom I connect and from whom I learn daily, embody Genshai.

    I don’t have any teaching experience yet but I’m already excited about Dogme. The way I see it, it looks like the most sensible teaching learner-focused approach that I’ve read about so far. And thank you for allowing this newbie to
    be a dogme fly in Chuck’s classroom… You see? You kindly treat me as an equal.
    That’s Genshai.

  • Adam

    Hi again and thanks to all who have left comments here. We bloggers love it when people take the time to reply to what we have to say.

    Actually, Naomi has pretty much described what I was hinting at in the tweet that set off this post: ‘The coursebook is the scientific element of language teaching. It’s up to us to humanize it.’ Any *decent* coursebook will be the result of huge scientific analysis of the language, with units delivering what is seen as representative samples. Dogme, in contrast, requires the educator to deal with the language here and now, with gut instinct replacing data. A big question I have with the *total* abandonment of materials (I’m not saying that dogme suggests this) is, ‘how much do you / should you only trust your instincts?’ How good are you? How good do you need to be to be able to do this?

    Don’t religiously stick to any given coursebook because they often go with what they can fit on a particular page, but don’t abandon materials either.

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Thanks for coming back Adam, and yes we bloggers ♥ when folks stop by and show us they’ve enjoyed the passion we’ve brought to the page.

    I do believe that Dogme demands instinct and experience in a way that some might not be comfortable with, though as a pedagogical direction it seems healthy. Honestly, before I had ever heard of dogme, I liked playing with that edge of chance in class. It was a challenge too in my time in China where students aren’t used to “giving” but more receiving.In light of this, and other typical classroom moments of lag, it’s nice to have something to fall back on when you’re a bit “dry on ideas” or there’s not much energy in class, so I understand your last comment as well.

    (adding @yearinthelifeof to see if i@yearinthelifeof:twitter automatically lets you know that I’ve replied… magic of disqus?)

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Genshai, huh?

    Now you’re talking! A word I hadn’t heard of and it sounds super cool ! I checked it out a bit and it supposedly comes from sanskrit— here’s a quick write-up I found.


    Being connected to a PLN is amazing, especially when it helps you to bring even more connection and learning in the classroom, or heck, in our lives in general ! I know my PLN is a springboard for so many things, and I am very grateful for that.

    AND lastly, Cintia, how long have you been telling stories? kind-of-an Odd Question, right?

    I know you are a good storyteller as I read your blog about your father and learning english (link below). For me teaching english or really teaching anything is like being a story-teller (which DOESN’T mean that your audience sits and listens!).

    At IATEFL, this was one of the drives of the DOGME symposium— story-telling, letting students’ stories direct and motivate their growth, as well as having the “humane” story-telling be central… and not a powerpoint or whatever else (my own understanding of it all).

    To be an english teacher story-teller, you, of course, need to know the legends of grammar and a whole bunch of tales of adjectives, a few stories about minimal pairs to drive pronunciation. But, in the end, you’re at the head of a class listening and telling stories that will help students to better then tell their own story in ENGLISH. Just as you know the GOOD parts of a story, you know the must-understand parts of English for your students, and you’ll identify them every day, and hear whether their story is ripe or not.

    You say you don’t have any experience… you have years and years and years of it, and I can tell you have the knack as a story-teller, as well as the knack of a story listener. You’ll do great. That first class might be a bit awkward at times, but “firsts” always are.

    Thanks again for stopping by, and look forward to following how your first classes go. :)

    (your great story btw… for others to enjoy)


  • http://twitter.com/DavidWarr Language Garden

    Brad, you just amaze me, this is such a wonderful post, and the thread that’s developed is so beautiful. I mean it, man! (strong American accent choking with emotion). How did we all exist without you??

  • http://thelizziepinardworldofteachingefl.wordpress.com Lizzie Pinard

    Great post, Brad! And thanks for linking to the #eltchat summary. Look forward to reading more of your posts! :) Cheers, Lizzie. 

  • Mr. Brad

    HEY david !!!  Always an honor to have you here on a co-journée. 

    David ! Im still working on the nlp programmin bit 4 ya. Comin soon !Now it’s time 4 a new chinese expression— 拍马屁  which means to flatter but translates literally as “to pat my horse’s bum and say ”fine lookin steed, ya got there” :)  Yer such a charmer which is why i luv ya. LOL  

    This post really is at the heart of how i c the world in contrast n balance. I know u get it, because connection n humane education is at the core of your plants n life n philosophy too. Thnx 4 stopping by n when u comin 2 paris,dude? (strong ‘merican accent)  

  • Mr Brad

    cheers Lizzie, as I look forward to your posts as well.  That was a great and original way of summarizing the chat ! 

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    So cool to catch your students in action.  I bet they had a good time filming it… the little guy that rolled up with the board in front of his face gave me a good giggle.

    24 hours… that’s a quick class.  I had similar courses with students in China… always wished there was a bit more time to watch individual progress, but alas, just not the nature of those courses.

    And yes, funny that your students enjoyed the specific “filling of the vessel”  It is certainly a culture, and we sink often into the mould we’re used to, disregarding other potential approaches.  This reminded me of a video I just saw by Sir Ken Robinson discussing how the education system may have been designed somewhat like a factory— literally moulding students.  Caught it on a Brazilian PLN’s blog—- check out more from Carla Arena here:http://networkedblogs.com/hTypD

  • http://twitter.com/CeciELT Cecilia Lemos

    I second every single word David has said and wonder myself how we all existed before Brad… certainly a much less fun and rich existance. I bow to you Mr. Panda! 

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson


    you all honor me, and having met you f2f makes this virtual experience so rich.

    Merci from the bottom of me  ♥   w/o knowing that people would read, I don’t know that I’d be motivated, so this is an awesome community effort that makes it fun ! ! ! !

    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px ‘Marker Felt’}

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  • @chucksandy

     It’s been a week since the initial idea of playing / learning together first came up  on #eltchat so let’s take the idea forward while there’s still some “buzz” in the air. Though I’m really buzzed myself by the number of people who think it would be fun to be a fly on my classroom wall,  I really do think it would be more useful and fun to collaborate on something together and to do that in a sharing the dogme / embodying Genshai  kind of all in it together for the learning kind of way. To get started, let’s do this:

    Would everyone who’s interested in getting involved in this project please do three things?

    1)  leave a comment here indicating where you’re teaching and the age group you work with.
    2) send me an email to charnelsan mac .com with DOGME FLIES in the subject heading.
    3) in the body of the email suggest at least one idea for  a collaborative student project.

    I’ll then create a google.doc or equivalent with everyone’s ideas listed and invite everyone to join in and collaborate on this doc.  What I’m thinking is that we might then divide up into YL / Teen / Adult groups and work in our group to flesh out ideas. Once we get a few solid ideas put together, we can put those to our students who can then decide (maybe by voting?) on which of the projects they’d like to do. 

    The “project” can be very loosely defined and structured w/ only some samples of possible outcomes modeled (e.g. samples of a podcast / brochure / etc). Then it would be the getting there with our own groups (and maybe across groups) and the way we all share / collaborate / work / play together where the dogme-actics come in. 


    Who’s in?


  • http://twitter.com/klizbarker Kylie Barker

    Hey Brad! 
    I’m super excited to have found your blog! Some of your writing reminded me of why I love languages. I recently wrote an essay to get into grad school, and contemplated the fact that I love language because it is one thing that is equally science and art. (I know this is besides your points of dogme and ELTchat – sorry.) But, I’m excited to follow along your journeys as you explore language and how it relates to teaching and such. 

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Kylie-

    Thanks so much for your comment.  I know what you mean by “language being something that is equally science and art”.  Language is scientific description like a finger pointing at the moon (science), but it is also the moon and the finger, because it is our very personalized expression and experience (art).

    Glad you’ll be along for more journées.  Having language geek friends is such a blessing these days!  Cheers, b

  • http://twitter.com/klizbarker Kylie Barker

    Thanks! I’m about to start an MA in Applied Linguistics . . . so hopefully my own posts and comments will become more informed and intelligent as I continue to develop my own understanding!  

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    oooo… jealous i am.  Applied linguistics.  I almost went down that path but I got a realllly boring linguistics teacher for linguistics 101 in college and dropped out of the class.  Feel like I’ve been studying it ever since, though :)

    I really look forward to your posts.  As we say in french bonne continuation ! 

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