Weekend Herald

Ba­sics first, cre­ative learn­ing will fol­low

- Bar­bara Ste­wart- Brown, Re­muera Illiteracy · Society · Education · Oceania News · Phonics

In The New Zealand Ini­tia­tive Re­port, Briar Lip­son claims New Zealand teach­ers are de­luded in think­ing they should let chil­dren di­rect their own learn­ing. This is linked to New Zealand’s de­clin­ing ed­u­ca­tional per­for­mance.

A deeper is­sue is that some stu­dents do not have the nec­es­sary flu­ent word recog­ni­tion and skilled text com­pre­hen­sion to be able to con­duct their own in­quiry into learn­ing.

Some chil­dren are lucky and pick up this lan­guage knowl­edge with­out foun­da­tional, sys­tem­atic, di­rect teach­ing. How­ever there is a sig­nif­i­cant group who need spe­cific teach­ing ( e. g. dyslexic stu­dents and some stu­dents from homes where a for­mal lan­guage is not spo­ken).

A mas­sive body of in­ter­na­tional re­search shows ef­fec­tive teach­ing of lit­er­acy re­quires the al­pha­betic prin­ci­ple, pho­ne­mic aware­ness, phon­ics, lead­ing on to spelling and vo­cab­u­lary. This en­sures that chil­dren can read with un­der­stand­ing, which un­der­pins their writ­ten and math­e­mat­ics skills. Un­for­tu­nately in New Zealand pri­mary schools there is in­suf­fi­cient di­rect teach­ing of these es­sen­tial skills. Well- ed­u­cated and trained teach­ers need to lead the way to stu­dents gain­ing ba­sic knowl­edge, then as they ma­ture they are able to use an in­quiry- cen­tred ap­proach and de­velop their cre­ativ­ity.

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