Lest I forget …

Just lately I have been losing my way in the mix of idealisms and practicalities of developing a rational and personal concept of what learning might be and what needs to happen to secure it. I have been talking and watching what happens in schools and have been listening to children and teachers about what they actually do. I have read assignments by students on various courses and wonder what they make of the process of education and how, for them, this process matches learning.

I am now stuck in my own dogma it seems … I have firm thoughts about a number, of what some consider to be, basic things that happen to children in schools and my ideas seem almost totally at odds with what I see.

Handwriting
Why is it given such an important place? Is it an essential learning skill? If it is – to what level does it need to be developed in a world where most communications are now made electronically and writing on paper with a device is usually for personal notes etc? And what has it got to do with literacy?

Writing Does it take place in a persons head? If so then what effect does the communication of the message have on the intended audience? Is presentation the thing? Is multi-modality a cosmetic or is it an essential means of calculated engagement?

Worth having a listen to this … and then ask your class if you have one.

Reading Where does reading begin and decoding stop? Is there a ‘thin line’ or is it a merger? How many skills are involved in the process and why should have ‘we’ opted for a one-size-fits (no it doesn’t) – all approach? Have the phonics advocates really read Shakespeare or Roddy Doyle or Cormac McCarthy and appreciated construction for/with meaning that emotes and responds to a difference sense of understanding? What about passion and joy in this fabulous process of living inside a writers brain and conjuring up personal pictures?

Comprehension Is not just about the words. What about the ability to decode multi-modal texts and make sense of movement, sound, colour, juxtaposition, image and video? How and where does that get taught?

Computation When did I last use – ‘a minus times a minus makes a plus’ – other than in an exam fifty odd years ago? What use is knowing it? When did I last do 3 and 5/7 times 7 and 3/5 and why would I do that? Why do I need to be able to multipy 398 by 76 and get the right answer and why do children need to be able to do these sorts of things?

All answers to these conundrums and responses toi my current state of ‘educational/learning’ mind will be greatly appreciated.

3 thoughts on “Lest I forget …

  1. Thank you so much for thinking out loud on these topics. I can only agree whole heartedly.
    It seems that in many classrooms the same old stuff just keeps being recycled with little awareness of how the world has changed.
    Unfortunately I can’t provide any answer, except that we need just to keep on talking and writing about changing the dominant paradigm.

  2. Hi Doug – a pleasure as ever! Handwriting is now an “art form”, in a sense as miniature, relevant and important as any aesthetic aspiration. Writing – it certainly went on in Mozart’s head and no doubt in Shakespeare’s and Mark Twain’s; why not in little Fred’s, down the road? The more we depart from concern with the physicality and discover the mentality of our heirs on this planet, the better their future will be.
    Hilary makes a point – we must strive for the truth, what ever we struggle to perceive it to be; at the end, we must all ask the right questions…

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