My ‘con­scious’ ef­forts to teach lit­er­acy to Year 2

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SCHOOL REPORT -

I WAS teach­ing lit­er­acy in year two last week and we were fo­cused on writ­ing.

The chil­dren had been en­thralled by the ad­ven­tures of ‘stick man’ the day be­fore, in For­est Schools, and we were be­gin­ning the process of writ­ing about it.

As adults we can eas­ily for­get how com­plex this is for young chil­dren. They have to think about so many of the el­e­ments: hold­ing the pen­cil, form­ing the let­ters, mak­ing the words, ba­sic punc­tu­a­tion and stay­ing on the line. And that is all be­fore they have had to think about the con­tent; what they are go­ing to write about.

Most adults can write with­out think­ing about the process as an ‘un­con­scious com­pe­tence’ and can­not re­mem­ber mov­ing from ‘un­con­scious in­com­pe­tence’ (when we didn’t know that we couldn’t do it) through ‘con­scious in­com­pe­tence’ (when we knew we couldn’t do it) through to ‘con­scious com­pe­tence’ (when we could do it when we thought hard about it).

Chil­dren are of­ten at this stage as learn­ers at school.

Do you re­mem­ber when you were learn­ing to drive? Rev­ers­ing out of a space in a su­per­mar­ket car park, when in ‘con­scious com­pe­tence’, in­volved so many el­e­ments to think about that it was no won­der you had left the shop­ping on the roof of your car and couldn’t quite un­der­stand why the cars be­hind you kept swerv­ing and flash­ing, and the road seemed to be lit­tered with squashed baked bean cans.

Any­way, my ‘con­scious com­pe­tence’ young writ­ers were in process.

We all had our eyes closed, heads down, think­ing about ‘the fur­ther ad­ven­tures of Stick Man’, when the door opened and a lit­tle voice sliced through the si­lence, say­ing “Can we have Toni and Erin for ex­tra read­ing?”

Off th­ese two went, knock­ing over a pile of books into a wa­ter bot­tle on the way. We had just re­cov­ered our poise when there was another knock. We just had to look at the bril­liant leaf print­ing of two beam­ing young artists from year one.

The next few min­utes were spent in ad­mi­ra­tion of th­ese, ad­mit­tedly ex­cel­lent, multi-coloured cre­ations.

I pressed on, slip­ping from con­scious com­pe­tence into the one be­low when the door swung open again. “Can we tell ev­ery­one about a cake sale on Fri­day?”

gave them 37 seconds.

I

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