The ELT blogosphere is absolutely brimming at the moment with posts and discussion about teaching unplugged, Dogme ELT and the coursebooks/no coursebooks debate.
It's all very interesting, but more than a little messy -- which is fine for those of us participating in the various debates -- and I'm not sure how helpful it is for practical progress that teachers "at the chalkface" can relate to.
It occurs to me, as a proponent of teaching unplugged but also a believer that coursebooks can in fact evolve and do much more than they currently do, that a lot of us need to stop talking so much and do a little more doing and showing. Right now, a lot of us are sounding like those DoS's who posture and lecture from the office or in front of the staff meeting, rather than setting good examples through their own teaching and/or using the examples of other teachers' lessons to point the way towards more effective and eclectic practice.
Here are two general courses of action in particular that I would love to see more of:
1. Coursebook writers/publishers
If you(we) acknowledge that unplugged teaching has its merits and even certain wonderful advantages, try to be a little more forthright in including notes about this in (y)our teacher's guides and on (y)our own personal blogs and sites. Encourage teachers to put the book down/away sometimes. Give more specific examples of how (y)our units (or parts of your units) can be expanded to include "unplugged moments", and explain how emergent language might be dealt with -- you know, that organic language that happens out of and around interaction rather than through the pre-set grammar syllabus so meticulously presented in the coursebook.
Right now, you(we)'re making yourselves easy targets for the unplugged movement, because you(we) continue to allude to the idea (possibly through (y)our silence more than anything else) that it isn't feasible, and that most teachers are poor, down-trodden (potentially) incapable classroom teachers without (y)our (coursebook) help.
All the coursebook writers and publishing people I know see the value of unplugged teaching moments, but don't allow for them in their books or even around their books. What gives? I don't personally believe it's a global publishing conspiracy to try and make sure teachers always and only need coursebooks, but in all honesty, you(we)'re doing a pretty good job of allowing it to look like that.
2. Dogmeists/Unplugged Teaching Advocates
A lot of talk, you(we) lot, but not a lot of practical examples for teachers to see and learn from that are (a) easily found, (b) written up or demonstrated in practical (enough) terms, or (c) applicable beyond contexts that involve small classes or freelance teaching.
Despite what you(we) preach, creating conversation and dealing with emergent language "on the fly" in larger classes in particular (which are the norm, really, in a global sense) is really not an easy thing to do, particularly if you are inexperienced.
You(we) also need to get with the picture a little more, and also acknowledge that English is taught in a majority of contexts where coursebooks are required for reasons beyond the simple efficacy of practical or even effective learning.
So I think the language teachers of the world out there need to see a little more of (y)our doing rather than (y)our theorising, and a little more in the way of how to integrate this with current coursebook practices rather than trying to overthrow them in some sort of glorious revolution.
Teaching Unplugged was a great start, but it's not nearly enough. Stop talking about teachers and start talking to them, and start showing them what you do and how (in real rather than theoretical classes) -- without it having to always be about a whole anti-coursebook crusade.
So there you have it, then. I'm not sure anyone on either side of the (un)plugged fence will bother to read this or act on it, but for those of you (like me) who find they often end up with one leg planted on either side of the divide, I seriously hope they do!