December 2008
Volume 12, Number 3

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Diffusion of Innovation: A Plea for Indigenous Models

Rani Rubdy
National Institute of Education, Singapore


Much of curriculum innovation in English language teaching in the context of former colonial countries has been derivative rather than generative, imitative rather than self-initiated or self-regulatory. This trend is in part the result of historical exigencies that made the importation of ELT approaches, methods, and techniques for classroom pedagogy from mainstream educational theory and practice in the core countries of the West a 'natural' and almost inevitable practical necessity. Such categorical espousal of mainstream western paradigms that fail to take into account existing pedagogical practices that are rooted in organic, homegrown traditions is unlikely to work and therefore may turn out to be of questionable relevance and value. Not surprisingly, then, attempts at energizing the ELT scenario with innovative curricula have not had much success—resulting frequently in what Holliday has aptly called "tissue rejection," owing to their incompatibility with the "local rhythms" of the contexts and cultures in which these innovations have been transplanted (Holliday, 1994). A more insidious consequence of this trend has been the devaluation and suppression of local practices and the marginalizing and silencing of the voices of local practitioners. We need to develop a more ecological and responsive curriculum, one whose pedagogy is firmly anchored to the specific strengths that local practitioners bring to the classroom, where the local teachers' voices are heard, and where the teaching-learning process is carried out in a more critical and context sensitive way. The article explores the conditions and the parameters that could lead to the creation of such an indigenous curriculum model and identifies aspects that need to be taken into account in creating such a model.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, India, curriculum, local practices

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