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by Ovidiu Leonte, Colegiul National "Mihai Eminescu", Iași

It is common knowledge that change is becoming an ever more present part of 21st century life and that, among its nefarious consequences, feature such sadly familiar occurrences as confusion, disillusionment and disengagement for teachers. With new education laws lurking on the horizon in Romania, the pandemic fallout, living next to a war raging on and the threat of inflation, teachers are bound to feel overwhelmed. But should and could EFL teachers rise above that?
One observation to begin with is that change has often affected people unevenly and some have historically been known to even see it as an opportunity. After all, if much of what an intellectual learns through college is forgotten, what good does that education serve if not through the character it has shaped and the crisis management skills it has left behind, like some well-trained muscles after clever exercise?
Therefore, the seasoned teacher may do well to calmly observe that nothing is fundamentally new under the sun, so no military or economic emergency can undermine their work unless it actually hits home, existentially. In particular, the Romanian teacher knows he or she has lived through absurd and potentially dangerous rules and laws before, only to have ultimately used discretion or practical wisdom and continued to teach unencumbered to the best of their ability.
Take the TEFL example of new coursebooks emerging. Some quite flashy in appearance, others advertised as tailored to our country’s or region’s specific needs, some specifically designed to teach for high stakes exams while others designed to fit new education ministry requirements. Not that such claims can never be valid or justified, but some may understandably just be publicity stunts. The wise EFL teacher has always done well to quietly investigate, to diligently weigh the pros and cons, including the cost and relevance for their particular classes of students, and then boldly make their decision. Arguably, one needs to also bear in mind the cautionary tale of the disaffected teacher who thinks no novelty is worth pursuing and therefore misses out on opportunities, both for themselves and for their students! Experience is not simply a damper of all emotion, but a stabiliser, a filter that renders a teacher wise and effective while many around seem to be losing their mind.
Will our new education laws provide opportunities or potential harm? The EFL teacher certainly has a duty to avoid the pitfalls of tribalism here. One cannot afford to dismiss or embrace new educational approaches simply based on whether the proponent is one of us or someone politically embroiled with the other side. Neither can teachers let their personal liking or hatred of a politician cloud their judgment! Beneficial measures can come from any side and experience informs us that any package is usually a mix, so be prepared to take the good with the bad. Above all, as tribalism and polarization become more potent in our society, EFL teachers need to keep their cool and constantly assume that their information may be polluted, so carefully investigate and assume that the truth is no longer the publicly accessible commodity they thought it was, so, as a decent farmer might say, always separate the wheat from the chaff – even if no chaff is apparent at first sight.