the Founders

Just to clarify, Barbara, I am not a founder of TPRS. Here in the Denver/Colorado Springs area Susie Gross, Karen Rowan, Dale Crum, and Bryce Hedstrom are the ones who have been instrumental in illustrating and defining the method for others.

You probably think I was a founder because I write so much, but my posts and my books are merely a restatement of what I have learned from Susie, and everything I post is basically a reconfiguration of things I have understood from her and Blaine, mixed in with my own application of the method into my own classroom.

One of the reasons I write and post so much is because I am deeply concerned about how difficult it is to learn the method. Everyone agrees on that. To me, it is a major topic that we are not doing enough about as a community.

There are some teachers, vastly more gifted than me, for example, who for some reason don’t post on this list and whose voices are not being heard. This represents a real loss for those passionate new people who have been such a pleasant breath of fresh air on the moretprs listserve lately.

Personally, I write in an effort to bring a SLEDGE HAMMER to the ignorance surrounding TPRS. Blaine’s mantra, “we do what is best for teachers” is not a casual comment. He is doing all he can I am certain.

And Susie constantly travels all over the world, even to bring TPRS to just one person. I am certain she doesn’t need to do this. She could just be riding around in these beautiful mountains we are so blessed to live in here in CO.

I have said this before – Blaine and Susie can’t do it all. We have an information delivery problem in TPRS. This list is good but it has limitations. There are mountains of confusion surrounding TPRS. What are we going to do about it?

For every success story in TPRS there seems to be at least one failure. Each teacher who is comfortable with the method seems to know four or five who are not. How are we going to do what is best for teachers and make the learning curve less difficult? How are we going to simplify TPRS?

One idea is “to storyask“. At storyask.com we can use a wiki to simplify and share ideas about language learning. At storyask.com, there are no experts, but just a lot of us talking to each other, writing texts together, sharing ideas about TPRS together, arguing, laughing, questioning, learning. As you learn how to use a wiki, you love it. You wonder how you ever tried to share ideas without a wiki.

In wikis, accuracy of information is based on consensus. For example, as I post my books and ideas on the wiki, anyone who cares can refine and discuss and tweak and correct and uncorrect and change and improve the ideas. So it’s less about who thinks what and more about what; it’s less about personalities and more about principles.

A lively and free discussion of the information currently trapped in a few books would make TPRS stronger and more clear and more available to new people, effectively increasing the accessibility of TPRS to people exponentially. We all win in such an open environment of free and open discussion of ideas.

The corporate world has already begun using wikis. Even the Central Intelligence Agency is now using wikis. Since a wiki site is never in final form, but rather undergoes constant discussion and editing, some pages may not be very pretty, and some may even spark dissent. But if we keep first things first, keep it simple and keep it real, a person new to TPRS will have a much easier time learning the basics.

The use of links on wikis alone will increase the learning curve exponentially, because a person who seeks a definition of a TPRS term (which seem to be constantly changing and evolving), will not need to buy a book or post a question to find out what a term means, but simply click on a link.

Since the site will be constantly created many people, there will be no burden on a few people like Susie and Blaine to post all the time, and they can ride their horses and play golf, or spend more time with their family.

The storyasking.com wiki is owned by no one and serves anyone interested. It’s not about selling materials, it’s just about a big open discussion in which shared editing of a wiki replaces posting on the listserve. So we can focus less on materials and things and more on ways and means to make language learning easier. “To storyask” isn’t a noun; it’s a verb.

So no, I am not a founder of TPRS. I heard there were like eight people who got together in the early ‘90’s. Does anyone know who they are? I know Joe Neilson was one, along with Blaine and Susie and Dale. Who else?

Actually, you mentioned Stephen Krashen as a founder too. I think his research was a great support to Blaine, but Blaine is the founder. Krashen was able to articulate it, but Blaine did it, and I think he did it intuitively on his own and not a result of studying Krashen’s work. Blaine, please correct me if I am wrong on that.

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