0011: Question of Education, Content Literacy, and Teacher Education— and more questions
Elementary Educators work to teach children to learn to read; that is, they equip them with tools to decode words, sentences, and so forth. With those tools hopefully children are stimulated with experiences and conversations that help kids build their vocabularies. Of course, the effectiveness of these grade school experiences vary according to myriad factors from class size to teacher experience. But, as children progress through school, the focus shifts toward content and reading to learn. Unfortunately, the learn to read part was often not fully mastered. The skills are not always easily generalized to other areas, thus the 4th grade slump. Kids who have been taught to decode words phonetically, and “read” as quickly as possible for various tests that calculate reading fluency in it’s simplest form (rate only) are suddenly expected to comprehend texts that are not predictable and have no root in their own experiences. It’s like teaching someone to read musical notation without every applying it to an instrument or even a melody. And, this slump can continue far into high school leaving kids and teachers alike absolutely disillusioned. The transition is so abrupt, and the teacher training is vastly different. Elementary and secondary teachers have had varying levels of literacy training. But, the “methods” learned are mere algorithms to be implemented through rote-like practice. For true literacy to become a reality, we must shift and expand our views of literacy to encompass so much more than just reading and writing. We must engage our students, teachers, community members, and whoever else in critical discourse about issues relevant to our lives. By engaging in these ongoing conversations (verbal, written, drawn, etc.) we will expand and connect out worlds. Thinking skills will develop that have been neglected, and are absolutely necessary to success beyond fourth grade. Content literacy encompasses much more than simply reading the words. It requires learners to glean concepts from texts and repackage them into smaller units sometimes referred to as vocabulary. To do this teachers must practice this.
So should teachers be trained in critical discourse? Should their training include methods for leading and facilitating complex discussions? Would this help students and teachers?
- educatedtodeath posted this