Thursday, 22 November 2007


The Government is considering a proposal to raise the age at which formal reading teaching takes place with an American educational expert asserting that formal teaching of reading to children under 7 can do more harm than good and that boys in particular suffer from such a passive activity.

This says more about the purpose and delivery of teaching than anything else i can think of. My wife read with and encouraged our children to read from birth onwards, Starting with picture books that were highly repetative my children both took great delight in apparently reading (when they were in fact repeating lines learnt by rote) because the repetition that goes with early readers fits with one of the main ways in which children learn.

Reading is fundamental to gaining knowledge (and avoids a lot of painful and dangerous trial and error), and knowledge, as they say, is power.

The Department for education describes our primary education system as at its healthiest for years, at the same time that figures are released for the increasing number of children leaving primary school without basic literacy skills.

For once DC seems to have identified one interesting point, whcih is teaching children according to ability rather than age.

All of this suggests that children can learn to read from a very early age and there are massive advantages to this being the case. However, it is our idea of what consitutes formal education that needs to change. In particula the understandin that at primary level classes need to be much, much smaller so that teaching can genuinely meet the need to findividual pupils rather than being a one-size-fits-all conglomerate that leaves some struggling and some bored.

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