Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Read 'em or weep

What, can't a blogger go on holiday?

OK, so I'm back. And impressed by Channel 4's current week of programmes on literacy (I think you'll find it here). Can't quite decide yet if Ruth Miskin, the woman with the mad evangelical gleam in her eye for a particular style of teaching kids to read is mad or... well, no, she is bonkers, to some extent, I don't think that can be disputed but still... hmm... it's sobering and also inspirational stuff.

Of course this has nix to do with teaching maths - does it? Miskin's prescribing one method which should be used alone, to exclusion of all others, for teaching reading (called synthetic phonics, at which point I'm guessing she's asking for your credit card number) - one teaching method to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them, sort of thing.

And I do sort of see the point for the (non-PC language ahead alert!) less-able, even in maths. I mean, with my more able classes we can have a fairly interesting time discussing different methods or ways of setting out a solution to a problem, but I tend not to give that freedom to the less able, because they seem to thrive on the safety of knowing that this is how you're meant to do it. OK, so they thereby miss out on some of the vast richness of the subject but... if it means they can work out a percentage without a calculator, I reckon I'll take the trade.

I can't help but wonder if there's going to be a ground-swell of opinion in favour of teaching reading this way, on the back of such a high profile media campaign which (as far as I can see so far) backs it. It's a shame it has such a ring of "back to basics" about it though.

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