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E801: Block 2 Actions

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E801: Action 2.7: Inclusion and Perspectives on Literacy

Artiles makes the point that there is silence concerning the issues of race in the inclusion debates and Walker (1999) suggests that a reason for this is that future researchers are taught that culture is a variable that must be controlled. Payne makes the point that literacy has been ignored by sociology and suggests that it is an uncomfortable subject for sociologists although he gives no reason for this other than it being problematical.

This leaves some large gaps in determining who is labelled, who uses the label and what consequences occur from using these labels. Also looking at the social environments in which literacy problems occur and their key social correlates. Payne suggests that this gap in research results in a reduction in the ability to interpret national surveys correctly.

E801: Action 2.8: Inclusion in the USA

McDermott, R., Goldman, S. & Varenne, H. (2009) 'The cultural work of learning disabilities' in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.

'American education is compulsively competitive' p.252

Matches British education - competition for best nurseries, schools, chat outside gates about achievements, denigrating other children, ranking by table colour etc.

'for whom the bell curve tolls' p. 255 [Great quote]

New approach here with the introduction of vilification of those at both ends of the spectrum. Matches with my personal experience in the UK where I enrolled my daughter in a school temporarily whilst my mother was ill and, after the first day, I was asked to supply work for her as they did not have any that were at her level.

School involves large numbers of children. In order to keep the government and largest number of parents happy, teaching needs to be aimed at the highest percentages of children i.e. those in the middle of the bell curve. Those in the upper and lower quartiles cause problems .

'legitimate escapes from low test scores' p.255

See this so often at university - whether dyslexia is used as an escape by the student or an escape by the lecturer who is running out of time or ideas to use with students struggling with their course.

'White parents now seek the diagnosis of LD for the extra allowances it offers their children (Sireci, Scarpati & Li, 2005)' p.259

'Being treated differently can be good, or dangerous, depending on the cultural preoccupations with which it is aligned.' p. 260

E801: Action 2.9: Gender differences in literacy achievement

Boys - underachievement - HE sector

This is not really recognised in the HE sector as there is a common assumption that all students reaching HE are intelligent and articulate both orally and on paper. I do see it though with the frustration lecturers experience when they have students in their classes who ask intelligent questions and come up with innovative ideas but, without fail, achieve marks that are not consistent with these indicators of their intelligence and interest in the subject. It could be argued that it is the assessments that are wrong but these assessments are designed around what the students will be required to do in a work or research setting. Having worked closely with a group of eight geologists throughout their 4 years studying an undergraduate Masters, I can see the following patterns:

  • 2 out of the 4 girls and 1 out of the 5 boys in the group were willing to put in the work required to study the guidelines and conform to the requirements; All gaining 1st class marks
  • 1 girl has consistently declared dyslexia as a reason for her low marks although the two mentioned above also have diagnoses of dyslexia that they have not declared at university; Struggling to pass
  • 3 of the boys give intelligent verbal responses to questions and perform well in field work exercises and the laboratory but perform poorly in exams and written work. These three have all stated that they see no need to 'jump through the hoops' necessary to gain top marks in written work in exams as the lecturers know they understand the material. All three are very active socially. Two should pass the Masters at a low level (2:2); one is likely to fail.
  • 1 boy has struggled throughout with the material but has worked hard to ensure his lecturers explain the concepts to him and he has studied the guidance carefully in order to maximise his marks; currently on line for 2:1 undergraduate Masters
  • 1 girl is valued by her peers as giving intelligent and informative opinions during laboratory sessions and fieldwork. However, she constantly refers to herself as 'thick' in front of the lecturers, does not answer questions and spends little time studying and more on integrating herself socially; currently on line for 2:2.

From these points I tend to see a slight trend on male/female lines but more along the lines of what the student considers important in life with the majority of the boys valuing their current social status more than any prospective future status.


Some interesting points and ideas for research made in...

Millard, E. (1997) Differently Literate: Boys, Girls and the Schooling of Literature, New York, RoutledgeFalmer.

E801: Action 2.10a: Reviewing the article

Burns, J. & Bracey, P. (2009) 'Boys' underachievement: issues, challenges and possible ways forward' in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.

Literature Review:

  • Sets underachievement of boys in context
  • Sets out why it is important to consider
  • Refers to Gov documents/policies
  • Refers to history - girls achievement
  • Aspects mentioned without references
  • Language is casual in places
  • Missing concepts - single sex schools?

Research Methods:

  • All schools in one area - so local factors could effect
  • Comprehensive? By what definition if one school is mostly working class?
  • Definition of working class?
  • Qualitative - staff perception-senior staff most appropriate?
  • 'Frank' and 'honest'? How judged?
  • Quantitative - exam results - have these changed over years?
  • Why only one schools OFSTED?
  • Approaches used to address problem
  • Why were heads willing to participate?
  • All urban comprehensive (not inner city)
  • One school had competition from all girls school in locality that changed intake pattern


E801: Action 2.10b: Inclusion & Achievement

  • Segregation of boys likely to cause trouble - will this help either them or boys in general in the long term?
  • Positive discrimination to place boys in groups where it is cool to work - what about the girls who are displaced? ATTITUDE
  • SMART targets - MOTIVATION
  • Mentoring selected pupils - not inclusive- MOTIVATION/ACADEMIC

E801: Action 2.11: Culture, home and language

Major Language and Equity Issues facing refugee children

Audio taped interview with Workney Dechasa, senior refugee and community education adviser

  • No formal education/literacy in first language
  • Some have different script
  • Some have different style of learning
  • No English language at all
  • No history of past school experiences to refer to
  • Trauma makes setting difficult
  • Some have emotional problems e.g. separation
  • No parental support to cope with academic demands

Need to have their experiences and past education respected in order to feel valued by their peer group. [Inclusion]

School can be stable part of child's life when the family is being moved around. Poverty can be a problem as there are no reading materials available in the home.

Materials need to reflect experiences of children so teachers need to know the situation. They can access books from refugee centres etc.

Relate to Fernando Diniz, senior lecturer in faculty in Education, Edinburgh

  • Connections not acknowledged between socio-cultural factors and literacy
  • Child-centred learning starts from where the child is located - home - so culture and languages of home are important
  • How cultural and linguistic context at home is valued at school - power relationships
  • Ethnicity is description of groups in terms of culture/language
  • Race is used in context of racisism
  • Bilingualism in British classroom context refers to those who are non-white - more restrictive category than that used in research
  • Home links - how does school programme relate to the home background e.g. 4-5 hours a day operates in English and receives speech therapy. However, operates in different language at home.
  • Language background, gender issues and cultural background can combine to mask other problems
  • Power - deciding which children do what, any act has element of power; teacher's own values.


E801: Action 2.12: Reflecting on Parental Involvement

In my experience there are only two styles of parental approach to school:

Style One where the parent recognises that they are responsible for their children's education under the Education Act 1996 (a consolidating act which incorporates the 1944 Education Act and later legislation) which states in section 7 that:

"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to

receive efficient full-time education suitable ;

a) to his age, ability, and aptitude, and

b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."

Legally, if the school fails your child, it is your fault for choosing the wrong school! I have heard my teaching friends discuss with dread those parents who take this to an extreme and ensure they not only know what their children are doing from day to day but also can discuss with pedagogy behind the school work with them! Some of my friends consider these parents a real threat. Taken to a lesser degree these parents are the ones who support their children's work in the evenings and support the school with loads of fundraising.

Style Two is where parents are keen to delegate their responsibilities to the school as soon as the children start attending. I vividly remember speaking to a parent of the swimming club where I was Chief Coach. She was telling me that her son had been diagnosed with dyslexia and also had a lot of short term memory problems. She was telling me so that I was aware that he may not remember training sequences etc. I said that this must be hard work for her but she said that it was much better because it was now totally the school's responsibility to deal with him. These are the parents who rarely attend parents' evenings and, at an extreme, do not support their children's work in the evenings. Some of this group consider that they should have nothing at all to do with their children's education but others would like to do so but do not have the confidence and feel it is safer to leave it to the school.

When designing programmes for parent-school partnerships, it is important to consider the sensibilities of the parent's involved and the barriers that they have to overcome in order to participate in the programmes.

I was briefly involved in the Sure Start programme and, locally, that was organised along strict expert model lines with staff instructing parents on how to take care of their children, what classes to attend and judging when a child was fit for nursery or when they should be taken home or to a doctors. Many of the very young parents (12-16yrs) found this reassuring but some of the other parents were upset by the attitude.

E801: Action 2.14: Engaging the parents

Tett, L. (2009) 'Excluded voices: class, culture and family literacy in Scotland' in Flether-Campbell, F., Soler, J. & Reid, G. Approaching Difficulities in Literacy Development: Assessment, Pedagogy and Programmes, London, Sage.

Reader 2: Chapter 13

Linguistic differences between this and Artiles
This is a much more readable article as it is aimed at practitioners rather than the research community. There is much less rhetoric to justify the programme and it reports on the process and findings. It criticises the monolingual approach of the course and backs this with theory to explain the consequences.

Three examples of underpinning theory:

  • Psycholinguistics
    Readers construct meaning during reading by drawing on their prior learning and knowledge in order to make sense of texts (Goodman, 1986)
    emphasising strengths p223
  • Situated
    Using the literacy practices of everyday life p219
  • New Literacy Studies
    Socio-cultural aspects
    Relationship between power and language p221


E801: Action 2.15: Pause, prompt and praise

Understanding of the three techniques
Based on psycholinguistics (Clay, McNaughton)
Now call it behavioural interaction approach - Clay from DVD
One-to-one - more opportunity to self-correct

Would parents/carers or peers make most suitable tutors?
Peers may not have the necessary patience to pause and may be keen to illustrate their own knowledge by just giving the word

E801: Action 2.16: Using pause, prompt and praise

Links between school and community
Higher reading age gains when implemented at home and school (from paper)

How background and culture are integrated:
Glynn & Glynn (1986) study which Khymer-speaking mothers were working together with their children in order to discuss pictures and work out meaning (from paper)

Important to read material they can relate to even if it is in English. Tutor must understand the messages in order to prompt correctly (DVD)

Care with terms - prompt in Maori infers pushing in overbearing way

E801: Action 2.17: Early literacy in East Renfrewshire

Family background - looking to parents to provide fun activities to supplement school work

levels of ability - identify difficulties early so can help those with easy to solve problems and reserve major interventions for those still showing difficulties

literacy-rich environment - book bags - move to concrete - smiley sheet as whether good book or not, collect stickers to get book tokens,

integration of school and community - read 'Oliver's vegetables', trip to shops to buy veg and then cook; walk in community finding signs

professional development - reading story with other staff to observe the group; automaticity and literacy interactions studied in movement class

collaborative, reflective practices - practices based on well known or commissioned research



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