Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Prove literacy, teachers told

Well, it looks like things are getting started early with reporting for the National Literacy Inquiry. A draft report has been circulated to 'key bodies' for comment ahead of the official release date in early December.

So already we have some interesting claims being made:
  • Teacher graduates (English and literacy teaching graduates) 'lack the skill required to be effective teachers of reading',

  • Teacher graduates don't have the skills becuase Teacher educators aren't teaching them properly, preferring to waste money and time teaching Buffy rather than Milton,

  • The lack of skills 'in' graduates is not their fault, but the fault of those who run teacher education faculties,

What is proposed to remedy this skills shortage (sickness?)?
  • "Make university education faculties test students on literacy teaching methods."

  • "Assess students' (graduate teachers') ability to write clear, coherent reports for students, parents and supervisors as a condition of accreditation."

  • Teachers should provide "systematic, explicit teaching of phonics"

So here we have 'the' solution to the literacy 'crisis'.

What is most interesting perhaps is the 'evidence' quoted (at least in this article):
"(There is) scepticism among practising teachers about the personal literacy standards of new graduates."
That's it. That is the evidence used in support of the above claims (so far).

Well it makes sense doesn't it? If you want to know how graduates are doing you ask other teachers they work for/with. That way you get it straight from the grassroots. No need to worry about the challenges of different knowledge and approaches between different generations of gradutates. No need to worry about issues of power relations between new and more experienced staff. No need to worry about the easy 'standards have fallen over the years' populist line that is alive and well in most schools. No need to challenge the theory-practice binary that rages in schools, where rich intellectual exchange is regularly silenced by comments such as 'forget all that uni crap, you're in the real world now!' This is to say nothing about 'literacy' itself and how it might be seen as far more than a simple set of skills to use in the 'breaking of code'.

So graduates will be framed as deficit and the solution will be to give them the requisit knowledge and skills they need to pass on to students. Teachers as technicians.

So teacher educators will be the real culprits. Cavalier new age radicals under the influence of left-wing ideology and passe post-modernism.

The stage is being set and the terms of the debate are being layed. What are we going to do about it?

'Don't think of an elephant'

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