The annual IATEFL conference in Harrogate (a town between Leeds and York) was a pleasure to attend. And not only because I was elected Vice President with a show of hands, but also because I had the pleasure to attend several sessions, including four plenaries. My favourite was Sugata Mitra’s plenary, who spoke about his exhilarating experiments about how computers can do the job of the teacher. I think a few participants got his message wrong, complaining that Sugata would wish to get rid of teachers altogether. Not so! What he was suggesting was that children who are deprived of having teachers available in rural India (and in many other remote places in the world) may well learn a lot from the internet and also from one another.
Vicky: Professor Medgyes, first of all I would like to thank you for this interview – I have admired your work since I was in university!
Professor Medgyes: Thank you very much, Vicky. But frankly I’d much prefer if you called me Peter. It’ s far more informal. My students call me Peter too.
Vicky: You started your career as a school teacher. How did you enter the field of education?
Interviewer: Shu-Chun Tseng
1. Could you tell us why and how you decided to become an educator?
(Ana Wu, ESL instructor at City College of San Francisco)
Dr. Medgyes: When I was a university student the last thing on my mind was to become a teacher. In my youth I didn’t like going to school and my dream was to become a literary critic. However, I was so exhilarated by the practicum experience in the last year of my university studies that I felt I was born to be a teacher. (Youngsters are full of self-confidence, you know.)
2. In your teaching journey, what are your own terms of being “an ideal teacher”? And, how do you achieve your own goals?
(Shu-Chun Tseng, PhD, Indiana State University)
My 2014 calendar is pretty full – as you can see below.
The first conference I attended this year was the International House Director of Studies Conference in January. I gave the opening plenary to a well-packed audience. Sadly, I could afford to spend only two days so I had no more than a couple of hours to marvel at the beautiful sights of Greenwich where the conference was held. Chief Operating Officer Lucy Horsefield – thanks a lot for the invitation.
I have two daughters from my first marriage: Réka (b. 1971) and Kata (b. 1975). Following their father’s footsteps, both of them are English teachers. To make matters worse (oops, better), my wife is an English teacher too. What a family!
I also have a son, Bálint (b. 2001). He doesn’t plan to be a teacher – but my daughters didn’t either when they were his age. He is a computer buff. While he is helping me with my IT problems, he mutters under his breath: „Dad, you’re hopeless.” I’m sad to say, he’s right – I’m not even a computer immigrant.