My last response to Dogme criticism

Today I defended Dogme on another ANTIDogme blog post. This is becoming a habit, one I don’t intend to continue because it seems to be just adding fuel to the fire.

Here are my thoughts:

1)AntiDogme posts get hits and comments and are an easy way to potentially get famous or increase your stats

2)The criticisms are often very superficial

3)For some people criticising is the highest level of education when actually it is only a means to creating your own ideas/approaches but that takes serious work.

Why are people getting so angry and venomous towards to Dogme though?

Is it because:

1)It is too popular and people feel left out?

2)The ‘Dogme group’ seems to be too tight knit and people feel left out?

3)Dogme people think they are the best and scorn everyone else as inferior, or so it would seem?

4)Do people feel their view of teaching is being attacked and this is their retaliation

My opinion is that we should be developing whatever kind of teaching we do and helping our colleagues do the same. I really don’t understand why there is so much negativity and why people want to spend hours criticising Dogme and pointing at certain groups or members. What do they expect in return? Or do they want conflict perhaps?

There is always a reason behind human behaviour. Few people do thinks just for the heck of it.

The ‘Dogme gang’ is a group of people spread across the world who help each other in their teachers in many different ways. Is this illegal? Isn’t this what we should all be doing? Do we start having a go at you and your Audiolingual mates getting drunk in the pub? Er, no! Make your own friends or group, go on the net and write something about your views on teaching, reach out and find people who think the same then work together.

If I or my Dogme colleagues have insulted or angered any other teachers via our posts, talks, articles or reflections on our teaching, which we share openly for the good of everyone, then I think we are sorry. However, if you look at the sheer output of Dogme teachers and how much of it is open to all and how many of those people answer comments and questions and give ideas to anybody who asks them and the passion in which they do this and and and…well, that’s impressive and you should applaud it, whatever kind of teacher you are.

I’m sure this post will change nothing but I hope it plants a few seeds here and there….

I must now return to the Dogme cave where I’m meeting other Dogme teachers for a game of scrabble without a board.







21 thoughts on “My last response to Dogme criticism

  1. Hi Phil,

    I am not a true convert to Dogme, but I do appreciate some of the insights afforded by the ‘Dogme gang’. I first heard of Dogme about 10 years ago and was intrigued by the idea of teaching without lots of photocopies and bits of paper because I was guilty of exactly that.

    I reckon, though, besdies the points you have mentioned which are obviously part of the issue, you have missed one of the real reasons for all the hullabaloo about Dogme. This is the first time there has been a radical shift in focus in ELT in the internet age. Nowadays everyone has a voice and is all too willing to share it. (If you don’t mind the shameless plug, I blogged about this here .)

    Anyway, I think you are right to stop rising to the bait of the Dogme haters. If you ignore them they might just go away. It would be a shame though if you stopped engaging with people with genuine doubts.

    • Excellent point there Stephen. Thanks to blogs, FB and Twitter people are now part of Dogme as it’s ‘for the people’ rather than just a theory in a book or a paper. this would explain the passion people feel about it.

      My view is “really try it for a few weeks, see how you can create your own version, reflect on it then comment”. If you look at Dale’s dogme he works his ass off. This isn’t just some chats and grammar, this is his own personal brand of teaching. The same with Chia’s. If you saw them they would be completely different and shouldn’t be copied but you could take away a lot of things. 1 thing I think you shouldn’t copy is their lesson plan. Don’t start with the end product, you need to get to the source and the informed decisions based on sound principles and their own brand of dogme. We don’t want to see lots of Dale and Chia copies running round do we?

  2. Didn’t they ever tell you never to say “last”? Better to say “My penultimate response…” 😉 Thanks for NOT posting the link as then I’d be tempted to hop on over or then again I wouldn’t be… They are right anyway. Dogme does indeed stink if all you do is stay in your cave and play scrabble! ;-P
    Let’s go playing throwing books instead! Cheers, Phil!

    • OK Chiew but I think I’ve spent enough time on looking back. We should be working on developing and making and improving teaching. Anyone can throw stones. Why can’t we just say “hey, great idea or nice blog”??

  3. The anti-dogme attacks do seem a little personal and over the top at times. I don’t consider myself a dogme convert so therefore I have no agenda. This is mostly because I’m not in a position to practice it in my current employment so don’t have the personal experience to support either side of the debate. However, I am fascinated by it and drawn to it. I also enjoy reasoned criticism of it, but in my limited viewing of anti-dogme posts, few of them have made solid arguments that stand up to critique.

    I might also add, that the so-called ‘dogme gang’ have been about the most welcoming, open and helpful teachers I have found on twitter. Now maybe that’s because I’m drawn to dogme itself and have gravitated toward more dogme friendly teachers, but I don’t get the impression that they feel superior to anyone else.

  4. Hi Phil,

    Another thought provoking post!

    It occurs to me that you can look at this in another way – leave teaching out of it for a moment and think about it from modernist dialectic perspective: status quo – innovation – convergence.

    The status quo becomes that because too many people end up investing in the existing paradigm. Thus when innovation challenges that, the status quo considers the innovation to be (a) a criticism of the existing method, (b – and consequently) a judgement on the expertise and competence of existing practitioners. So the result is that the status quo perceives the innovation not as an attempt to expand or improve horizons, but as a value judgement. Hence the reaction and backlash.

    Eventually however, the innovation gains enough adherents to reach a critical mass and become part of the mainstream, because, in becoming part of the mainstream the innovation itself gains credibility. Result: convergence.

    This has happened before in ELT – look at the rise and fall of behaviourism for a start, but I think you can see it throughout the history of ELT. Dogme is just the latest innovation to set the teeth of existing practitioners on edge. It too will become part of the status quo in due course, and eventually dogmetics will turn and snarl and snap as the next innovation threatens all of the values that they hold dear!

    All the best,

    • Nice comment David. Sounds like some departments I know who are still stuck in Grammar Translation world. It’s a threat to the status quo and people get scared and these hardworking and eager teachers may even make the older staff look bad. But Dogme isn’t new at all, it’s been around for 10+yrs so I’m still surprised to still see all this ‘hate blogging’.

  5. I’m not able to write much at the moment, but know that you have just brought tears to my eyes. I love the support you and the others give me. I feel sorry for those who don’t have that. We, as teachers, have not chosen an easy path. We may as well work together from afar to do our best to provide the best atmosphere for learning we can.


    • Stick in there. I always feel like I never teach a lesson alone anymore. I use other DOGMEists’ ideas and even tweet and break or after class if I have any questions or just need a sounding board. International Dogme??

  6. Hi Phil,

    Much like Barry, I’m not an all-out dogme convert, mainly due to the restrictions in place at where I work. However, I am attracted to the idea and it has certainly made me reconsider my approach to using materials to the point where my young learner classes and I now regularly base our allotted ‘conversation’ lessons on conversation with some really nice lessons coming out of minimal stimuli.

    I have always refrained from responding to the anti-dogme posts that seem overly aggresive or defensive but I am happy to contribute my thoughts when someone has geniune questions or expresses doubts in a reasoned way. I think the reason that some people get so worked up is that dogme does fundamentally challenge two aspects of language teaching that most people accept without question: the use of a coursebook and the grammar-based syllabus that is almost always derived from it.

    Think about it – almost any other ‘innovation’ in ELT can and has been incorporated into the existing coursebook/pre-planned syallbus structure. Books often boast about their ‘communicative approach’, CEF relevance, connection to this or that exam or (as the publishers seem to have swamped my school with recently) CLIL. Dogme by definition cannot be incorporated into that familiar existing template. For some, that means a challenge to everything they have ever known about teaching.

    I have met with refusal to even contemplate the concept of dogme in my workplace or even the idea of just reducing the amount of material we use to free up time for project work or conversation. My long-term hope for dogme is that it challenges that mindset and makes people at least consider doing things off the beaten track from time to time.

    • Nice on Dave. I agree that some older members of staff are OBSESSED about grammar, everything has to be grammar, lecturing, fact sheets and translated.

      For them Dogme is the ultimate attack but I think they need waking up!!

  7. Just a reminder that anyone who has constructive, as opposed to destructive, criticisms to contribute may do so in Phil’s document: and that criticism will be addressed, I’m sure, by some dogme practitioner or other.

    To insert a comment, highlight word or words somewhere in the document, then go to Insert>comment. That simple.

  8. Phil,

    Had the original mail on this post sitting in my in-box (as a reminder to add my two cents worth) – just run through all of the comments now and see most of what I wanted to say has been said. But that have never stopped me before 😉

    Like many others – I am not a “dogme convert” (and never really liked “gangs” – they scare me) 😉 …but, it just seems to me that if a bunch of guys want to share a few ideas on practice, bloody good on them.

    Dogme, for me, is simply an extension of what “experienced” and “effective” do on a day-to-day basis. Do they do everything that others might do in their classes in a lock-step manner because it’s the flavour of the month? No, they pick and choose – they experiment and fail – they learn…for their students.

    To all of those Dogme-bashers, or CLT-bashers or (even) GTM-bashers – you do not have to “do” anything you do not want to. Stop wasting time on the hating – focus on your learners and what else you can do to improve and expand their learning and success 😉


    • Tony, that is FANTASTIC!!

      Citicising is easy, I should know, I live in a country full of them. Developing yourself and putting your ideas out there for people to share, discuss and even cut down, demands respect.

      A lot of people have said that the Dogme Gang are more visible due to their blogs and tweets etc. As they/we are that techie generation then it’s normal to communicate in this way. Dogme is also just an idea base don 1 article and then a book that summarised lots of ideas. I suppose, it’s like a movement but it’s very free and has become an umbrella term or ideal for people interested in more freedom, developing, self-reflection, collaborating and also in need of support. I don’t know of any TBL, CLT, NLP…groups as supportive, do you?

      What I find amazing though is that there is no social distance at all. You can tweet Scott or post messaged on the Yahoo group and he replies, Luke and Rob too. They’ve helped loads of CELTA and DELTA AND MA students. You don’t see that kind of thing much, or rather I haven’t. Last week someone asked for comments on her class so me and some other dogme people commented and she included them in her DELTA assignment. All she had to due was use #dogme or just include our handles in her tweet. This happens a lot. I don’t think it’s a gang but a loose group of people who collaborate and support each other. As someone a looooong way away from Europe that is invaluable to me, to have great teachers, authors and educators on tap 24 hrs a day.

      Thanks again.

  9. Whatever one’s views are of this or that approach, style, whatever, if it inspires reflection of your own teaching and dialogue about it or the style in question, it’s good that it’s out there.

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