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Paper lesson plans: “Security Theatre” in ELT?


A nice video by Anthony Gaughan.

A common feature of many initial teacher training programmes is a strong emphasis on detailed paper-based lesson planning. Whether this actually increases teacher preparedness to teach is questionable.

Prompted by a TED Talk on Security Theatre and risk assessment, AnthonyI suggests that focusing on anticipating problems and trying to eliminate perceived lack of control in lessons may not be helping new teachers truly come to terms with the realities of the classroom.

He argues that paper-based lessons planning appeals to our need to feel secure, rather than actually making us any more secure.

He also calls for teachers and trainers to focus more on preparing for opportunities, rather than potential problems. Interesting take on the issue.

However, I feel paper-based lesson planning provides trainees with a structure to think through the coming lesson.

Of course, their focus shouldn’t be just on problems, but this should certainly come into the planning process.

Here is the TED talk from Bruce Schneier “The Security Mirage”:

Do you want to prepare better lessons and improve your teaching skills? Take one of our Teacher Development courses at Oxfor TEFL.

Anthony Gaughan

Anthony Gaughan is a teacher and teacher-trainer with over 25 years of experience working in the corporate, state secondary, higher education, and private adult education sectors. He is a Cambridge English approved Assessor and Main Course Tutor for the CELTA initial teacher training qualification, as well as a Tutor for the Delta Module 2.

He gives talks and workshops for schools, teachers’ associations, and publishers worldwide and online, and is a former coordinator of TDSIG, the Teacher Development Special Interest Group within IATEFL, for which he has also worked on the Membership and Marketing Committee. He does not write publicly about ELT much, but when he does, it’s usually at teachertrainingunplugged.com.

Anthony generally works on the Learners, Reading and Writing, and Methods and SLA modules, but like any good colleague, he can also be found subbing for somebody from time to time.

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