The Reader Gets Angry

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g.carter
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The Reader Gets Angry

Post by g.carter » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:47 pm

Gabriella Grudden Ponti in Scenes from a PGCE paints one of the most chilling pictures of the dumbed down education that short changes so many children:

http://readergetsangry.notlong.com

This is a ridiculously long link but it is well worth trying to access the article.
Boyd Tonkin in the Independent wrote
"You don't, while brosing in a literary magazine, expect to have your heart broken.."
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 99701.html

Edit: I've shortened the link so that messages on this thread are easier to read. Hope that's OK. Susan.

JIM CURRAN
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Subject

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:17 pm

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge". Hosea 4:6

john walker
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Post by john walker » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:38 pm

Amen to that, Jim!
John Walker
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Post by john walker » Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:27 pm

I've now had time to read all of 'The Reader Gets Angry' and it's a crushing indictment of some of these PGCE courses, along with some of the teaching going on in secondary schools.
No wonder Gabriella was able to mount such an articulate critique; it's not everyone who can enjoy a curriculum based on the Greek myths. Here's a link to her on Friendster: http://profiles.friendster.com/1381223
John Walker
Sounds-Write
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http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

JAC
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Post by JAC » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:39 am

Gabriella sounds an interesting woman.
I don't know much about education in Italy, other than from a friend of my daughter who spent a term in an Iitalian school during Y10. She was mortified that she was placed, for English, in a class below her age level. Her grasp of English was judged worse than that of the native Italian speakers.
It did not surprise me. I counted up the English texts my daughter had during her high school years. While the exact number is now forgotten, I certainly remember being somewhat dismayed at the time.
I don't wish to blame English teachers here in Western Australia but the dumbed down outcomes-based curriculum imposed by bureaucrats from on high. The scenario painted by Gabriella was mirrored here in WA where almost anything could be described as a text and therefore worthy of study, from text messages, to advertising doggerel.

Since the demise of plato, it has become impossible for people not in the secondary system to really know what is going on in high schools here. We could do with more undercover reporters like Gabriella.

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Post by john walker » Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:53 am

On JAC's last point, the RRf could provide a forum for teacher trainees to write in and tell us about their experiences, as I'm absolutely convinced that Gabbriela's story is by no means unique.
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

JIM CURRAN
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Post by JIM CURRAN » Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:17 am

There's an interesting article by E.D Hirsch in the latest edition of the excellent American Educator : ''Creating a Curriculum For The American People''

http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/america ... hirsch.pdf



In the article Professor Hirsch describes how in the twilight years of his career he arranged with the Dean Of the Education Faculty at the University of Virginia to teach a course on the causes and cure for the achievement gap. Professor Hirsch had taught at the university for many years but in the English Department. Professor Hirsch was known to hold controversial views on the curriculum and he expected a keen enrollment for this course. He was disappointed when only ten students enrolled. Over the next two years student enrollment didn't improve. Then one day it all became clear, when one of the students told him privately that they had been explicity warned by members of the Education Faculty not to take this course. Whereas other university departments welcomed dissent the Education Department had a system of totalitarian management. Progressivism reigned supreme and there was no room for dissent.

Elizabeth
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Post by Elizabeth » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:08 am

Re both articles: interesting and depressing.

Most young teachers I meet when training - from those who teach five year olds to those who teach older students who can't read - tell me they were taught either nothing or next to nothing about how to teach reading, during their initial teacher education.
Elizabeth

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:04 pm

Gabriella mentions literacy problems among secondary-school children in passing, and I'm sure Elizabeth is right to point out that most trainee teachers are taught far too little about how to teach reading. The main thrust of Gabriella's article, however, is surely not to do with basic literacy but with more advanced literacy - the things that mark out people as well educated, which is also a large part of E.D. Hirsch's concern.

Some time ago, there was a good article in Journal of Research in Reading (18/2, 1995) in which the author, Philip Gough, distinguished between what he called 'Literacy 1' and 'Literacy 2'. 'Literacy 1' is 'the ability to read and write' and 'Literacy 2' is 'being educated'. It seems to me that Gabriella's main concern, in this article, is with the way that teacher-trainers seem to want to put a ceiling on the education received even by children who are quite competent in the 'basics' of literacy.

Jenny C.

g.carter
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Post by g.carter » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:39 pm

But it's all very much part of the same mind-set and in order to gain a deeper understanding of why the Education Establishment has resisted all evidence of lowering standards during the past 40 years - one has to have some insight into what is being taught/indoctrinated at all levels of student instruction.

g.carter
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Post by g.carter » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:48 pm

John's suggestion about providing a Forum for teacher trainees to impart information about their training might be overloading the message board? But what about a thread on the subject and inviting students/NQTs to contribute?

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:22 pm

In response to my last message, Geraldine wrote:But it's all very much part of the same mind-set and in order to gain a deeper understanding of why the Education Establishment has resisted all evidence of lowering standards during the past 40 years - one has to have some insight into what is being taught/indoctrinated at all levels of student instruction.
Yes and no. It seems to me that what has happened with what Gough calls 'Literacy 1' is that the theorists have expected children to run before they can walk - to comprehend texts that they can't comfortably decode, to understand different genres from the start etc. This has left many children struggling, and 'Literacy 2' then has to be dumbed down, even for those children who have somehow managed to crack the code for themselves. So I think that if teachers of older children have low expectations, this is actually a knock-on effect of the unrealistic expectations that teachers of younger children have been trained to have.

Having said that, I also have to say that most of the colleagues I worked with until I retired in 2000 had high expectations of their students. I was never aware of the sort of pressures that Gabriella mentions, and I suspect that they are not universal.

Jenny C.

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Post by maizie » Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:42 pm

My supervisor never elaborated, but soon I came to see that many students did indeed have desperate needs: about one third of them could barely read. Before my year in a comprehensive school I hadn’t understood what functional illiteracy was; I’d never imagined that there were so many intermediate stages between not reading and reading. But many of my students were mired in a twilight zone between literacy
and illiteracy: they knew the letters of the alphabet (if not always their order); they could sound out most monosyllables; and they could understand short, simple sentences consisting of short, simple words. Anything beyond that and they were at sea. This meant that anything that might engage their interest was too difficult, or at least, too difficult to be enjoyable, and so they fell further and further behind.

In view of the illiteracy of so many students, one might imagine that a lot of class time would be devoted to remedial reading. Nothing could be further from the truth. Widespread illiteracy was an acknowledged fact in the school, but it was never treated as an urgent problem; at the university education department, student illiteracy was politely ignored, even though it governed (often arbitrarily) every assumption about what was and was not possible.

The lessons I observed were indeed geared to the weakest students, but not in the sense of teaching them what they needed to know – to read – but rather of keeping them busy, and occasionallyof enabling them to pretend they could do what in fact they couldn’t do.
This is the passage which struck the biggest chord for me.

g.carter
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Post by g.carter » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:52 pm

Well, you were lucky Jenny.
The schools in my area and surrounding London areas:

Tulse Hill Comprehensive(much better in Ken Livingstone's day)
Pimlico
Kingsdale (JAC would know something about this one...)

in fact all the South London schools including the flagship ILEA schools and the bog standard comprehensives were all marked by one thing - a dumbed down curriculum.
That's why Tony Blair had to shunt his children across London to find the nearest thing to a grammar school (and even then his kids had private tutors), Harriet Harman had to pick a Bromley Grammar School (protestant) for one son, Tony Blair's choice (catholic) for the other...and on and on.

No grammar, no spelling, no single science subjects, low grade language teaching ...

JIM CURRAN
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Post by JIM CURRAN » Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:27 pm

In most of these schools constructivism reigns supreme. It’s a total betrayal of the most disadvantaged. I was listening to the radio in the car a few days ago and Pink Floyds “ Brick in The Wall” came on. It just summed up the whole constructivist philosophy that has consigned the most vulnerable in society to the scrap heap. It’s the reason that more boys at Eton last year got 3 A’s at “A” level than all the boys on the free school meals register.

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