Knowing Me Knowing You
Knowing Me Knowing You is a series of fully photocopiable worksheets designed with the laudable aim of assisting students to "improve communication skills", "enhance fluency", "foster relationships with self and others", "provide insights" into their preferred ways of "thinking and learning". and develop "a light-hearted look at their purpose in life"(!!). The book generally achieves all of these aims (except perhaps for showing us the meaning of life) and the activities are, on the whole, extremely popular with students. The author, Jim Wingate, utilises a humanistic approach in this book and "draws on ideas" from Multiple Intelligences, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and "Pop Psychology". Ultimately, the book sets out to achieve its aims by encouraging both the student and teacher to understand the way in which each other thinks and learns. Each activity is accompanied by comprehensive teaching notes, consisting of an aim, note to the teacher, detailed teaching method and occasionally useful background/supplementary information and optional follow up lessons. Knowing Me Knowing You is a part of DELTA Publishing's "copycats" series of teachers' resource books and as such, with its ring binding and wide margins, is physically easy to manipulate in a photocopier.
Upon first glance, this book appeared to be a collection of activities to help the teacher to secretly psychoanalyse their students under the guise of an English class. However, the book's humanistic foundations rapidly emerge so that the book changes from being a "find out what makes 'em tick" kind of book to a "let's discuss and explore together what makes each of us tick in our own special way" kind of book. I must admit, I've always been somewhat scared of using this kind of humanistic approach in my classes, so I was skeptical (and, I'm now sad to admit, even cynical) at first. However the reactions I received from my students when I first trialed these activities, served to quickly eradicate my doubts. My students thoroughly enjoyed the activities I used, particularly the "pop psychology" quizzes. These activities generated great discussions and true construction of language for the first time amongst this group of students. The most impressive aspect of this book is the insight the activities give to the teacher regarding their students' methods of learning in general. I have certainly gained a far greater understanding of my students by using this book and this has in turn allowed me to greatly improve the design of future lessons, with my students' specific capabilities and learning preferences in the fore-front of my mind. Students seem to really appreciate this extra effort and I'm sure the exponents of the humanistic approach would say that the students have also gained a greater insight into the mind of their teacher through these activities.
There are of course certain limitations to this book. To get the most from the book you would want to have a small, regular class where you are able to have close interpersonal contact with the students. It would be almost impossible to effectively utilise the vast bulk of these activities in a large class. The book is supposedly designed for teenagers from "early-intermediate and above" to "high-intermediate and above". When dealing with adult students these level guides are accurate. However, I discovered that much of the quasi-colloquial language used in this book was extremely difficult for middle-intermediate teenagers to comprehend.
Although I'm certainly not a "humanistic convert" after using this book, my mind has been opened to the possibilities of such an approach. With time, I'm certain that both my teaching abilities and my students' communicative skills will be greatly improved in the classes in which I use this book. I'm also sure I'll be able to use this book repeatedly in the future. If you have a small class of intermediate or above adult students or advanced teenage students whom you see frequently, then I really cannot recommend Knowing Me Knowing You enough. Being able to deliver a lesson directly to an individual student's preferred method of learning is obviously extremely useful, and Knowing Me Knowing You gives you the tools to do just that.Mark Limb is an English teacher with obviously far too much spare time on his hands.