Data Data Everywhere...

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Data Data Everywhere...

Post by Lesley » Sat Jul 24, 2004 8:17 am

This article was flagged up by Reading A to Z this month.

The parallels between the No Child Left Behind Act and The Primary National Strategy are obvious and many.

The gap between rhetoric and reality, the phoney concept of "choice," the huge amounts of money being thrown at the problem in the hope that something might stick, the obsession with data collection (weighing the pig doesn't make it fatter!) and the supposed return to the systematic teaching of phonics.

We know it all amounts to a pile of beans if you haven't got a well-trained teacher who delivers daily sessions in synthetic phonics to the children, and who does not promote the mixed methods/searchlight model when their pupils pick up a book to read.

Wonder how many dollars it would cost to provide a copy of the Jolly Phonics handbook to every Kindergarten and Grade School teacher in the US?

We can dream, can't we?



Post by Guest » Sat Jul 24, 2004 11:17 pm

Sweet Lesley, I got back (a difficult taask currently on BUSHINTERNRT.COM net surfers).

Two middle class paarties, Republican and New Labour, have announced the priority of "education, education, education", because it accords with the m. class recognition of rationality as the means of progress in EVERY area of human endeavour. It is, tragically, an intellectual recognition only, which is accompanied by an emotional socialist/christian (stupid) attitude among the more "empathetic" members of the class that typically enter ed. depts. and join teacher unions that different standards from the normal, human ones must be applied to any kids living in sub-m.class circumstances.

This essentially pre-scientific do-gooding stratum of the dominant class will continue to frustrate the rational impetus that brought it into dominance as long as it fails to recognise the long-term advantages FOR A NATION of harvesting ALL the intellectual capital born to it - a RATIONAL enough proposition.

What would prevent such a reconition? Only sub-rational beliefs such as socialism and christianity, both of which have entered deep into pedagogy. Both are in practice essentially paternalistic, because in place of the recognition of innate human potentiality there is substituted an external force: historical destiny or "God's will".

Only science holds the truth for rearing kids: science asks what works, what allows them to acquire literacy and become fully human - and works out the reasons afterwards, in humble subnmission to evidence and logic. Science assumes all kids to be fully human and therefore rational, and to want to acquire the means to self-realisation.

Science assumes that human kids are born to an inheritance of extreme receptiveness, sensitivity and logicality - wherever they are born - and that if this heritage is frustrated individuals will knock the hell out of ignorant but well-meaning educators.

Etc. etc.



Post by Guest » Sun Jul 25, 2004 12:14 am

You may ask: if this guy is so keen on rationality, why didn't he proof-read this message?

I say: because it was driven by emotion, interestingly enough - but emotion informed, nay dictated, by intellectual conviction. Not your average fuckwit socialist/christian educationist's beliefs. All right?


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Post by Lesley Drake » Sun Jul 25, 2004 12:51 am

Dear Grasshopper,

I was all set to reply when your second posting arrived!

Don't ever worry about typos - for me, emotion wins out over accuracy every time - except in KS2 SATs, where you would have been marked down on spelling, sentence structure and punctuation, but might have saved yourself in the composition and effect department.

I agree with all that you said about science, but I'm worried about the socialism, being a bit that way inclined. The appliance of science can't happen in a vacuum, and surely it is the capitalist system that writes off so many people because it only needs a certain proportion of educated workers, and the rest to sweep the streets?

In theory at least, socialism has more going for it than that, "From each, according to his needs etc ..." and you would think that science would have more of a chance to enable all children to flourish under a system where supposedly people come before profit.

I know you're going to say that the former socialist countries didn't have a very good track record where scientific and academic freedom were concerned. But in theory...

Another thing that muddies the water is that all sorts of idiots call themselves socialists - especially the sort that end up in the education departments of universities and the teacher unions ( eg STA, CDFU etc).

Perhaps we could start a new political movement - "scientific sort of socialists for a better world" and get debbiehep elected as PM.

Naaah! Can't be done without breaking into cockney. You will need to come up with a better working title than that, until normal glottal stop service is resumed!

I'm rambling - its late, and in solidarity I am not spellchecking this!

Mistress L

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Re: Data Data Everywhere...

Post by K Nowers » Sun Jul 25, 2004 8:10 am

Lesley wrote:
Wonder how many dollars it would cost to provide a copy of the Jolly Phonics handbook to every Kindergarten and Grade School teacher in the US?

We can dream, can't we?

If only it was this simple. Jolly Phonics handbooks and materials are already in a HUGE number of British primary schools. Unfortunately only a relatively small number actually READ the handbook and use Jolly Phonics as a programme. Most simply use some of it's materials to introduce some of the letter-sound correspondences as part of a National Literacy Strategy programme. All the while they teach the High Frequency word list as sight words etc. When a portion of the kids struggle they conclude that these kids don’t ‘suit’ phonics and instead of giving more phonics support they drive these children down a whole word/look say approach.

What we need is for research and reason to replace the emotion and ideology that characterises education debate. We could also do with more teachers and schools who truly understand and successfully use systematic synthetic to stand up and shout about it and to offer training to other teachers and schools. Maybe then we will start to get somewhere.

Best wishes


Post by Lesley » Sun Jul 25, 2004 9:13 am

Morning Brian, Hello Kiki,

Yes, well, Lesley wrote quite a few things yesterday that she should have thought about a bit more, and reread, then she wouldn't have got her quote wrong, and she would have been more precise and less wooly!

Agree with you totally Kiki, re Jolly Phonics handbook not being enough on its own, it has to be used in the correct way. Those of us who use a synthetic phonics approach do have a duty to help others see what is possible.

And you are BOTH right about the need to replace to "replace the emotion and ideology that characterises the education debate."

It's just hard to do it without getting a bit emotional yourself! It has to be emotion "informed/dictated, by intellectual conviction," to quote my favourite insect. We have to be led by the science, not vice-versa.

I was reading the final section of a really battered and much-loved book written in about 1989 yesterday, and its worth including a quote.

"All children are different is half the truth, but it throws out of the window any possibility of standards and minimum expectations. It let in ideas like horses for courses, that what suits one child will not suit the next - this was never tested. It helped to explain why for some children the new method (look and say/whole language) did not work, after they had dropped the safe method.
It is the justification for having an individual programme for each child - they say. In practice, each child gets the same introduction and merely proceeds at a different pace. Class teaching means that all children are kept together, a principle like a sheepdog keeping all the sheep going the right way, and fast sheep can race ahead so long as they head the right way. Class teaching gives 30 times more, 3000% more, pupil-teacher contact, which is another reason for faster progress. Class teaching also allows the teacher then to say "now get on with it" reading or writing on their own while she can attend properly to the slower ones. Class teaching works because the other half of the truth is "All children have common needs."
The Progressives ( your progfessors Grasshopper!) tried to equalise downwards, thinking that when they got rid of the elite, and you never will, the rest would stay put. What happened? When the top band came down, so did all the rest. The gap between top and bottom is now wider than ever. What manner of people can be so dark of soul as to want to eradicate excellence? We must expand the elite until 90% of us are elite - and with the power of TV this is within our grasp. Spared look and say, the council estates of 1950 would by now be the new stockbroker belts. look say is the biggest single factor in our social disintegration. Intensive, systematic phonics is the ladder out of the pit. Illiteracy is a prison sentence, a like sentence."

Thank you Mona McNee for a prime example of emotion informed/dictated by intellectual conviction. All the issues we are debating now, were there 20 years ago. Hopefully more people are listening now.



Post by Lesley » Sun Jul 25, 2004 10:22 am

Typos, typos everywhere....

Of course the last line of the quote should have read

"Illiteracy is a prison sentence, a LIFE sentence."

What's in a word, eh?


Debbie Hepplewhite

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Jul 25, 2004 1:05 pm

Kiki - great to have you posting on the messageboard.

We have missed your voice of measured reason SO much and wondered where you had got to.

Mona McNee describes herself as 'a little old lady in tennis shoes' and what a huge amount she has accomplished for literacy for our nation - it is a disgrace that people have not listened to her remarkable voice of common sense and reason, and her knowledge about the international history of reading instruction in English-speaking countries.

Mona has been joined and supported by a vast range of us in our different shoes. I hear, for example, (through the 'admin' email, snail mail and phone) from people all over the world including from Africa to Japan to France to the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Imagine the many types of shoes in which all these people stand!

What I frequently mention is that the UK RRF was founded as long ago as 1989, the National Literacy Strategy was launched in 1998 with ardent critics even at that time, and yet the lack of proper scientific research of the NLS reading instruction programmes has been an act of total betrayal of the British people and entirely unaccountable - a total lack of true professionalism AND in the educational domain. It is astounding!

How could those charged with creating a national literacy strategy to address the high rate of illiteracy in this country (knowing how important the issue was, knowing that there has been FIERCE debate about how best to teach reading, knowing that different approaches such as look and say and whole language had increased illiteracy and depressed elements of literacy such as spelling) simply NOT test their programmes scientifically to ENSURE the MOST EFFECTIVE teaching methods were promoted and to ENSURE the GREATEST ACCOUNTABILITY?

These are days where, in England, each teacher is painfully aware of their individual accountability and works under untold stress with a national testing system, powerful and intimidating inspection system and heavy government influence through a never-ending range of 'initiatives'.

I am going to discuss shortly this word 'accountability' and ask what it really means and what it means specifically regarding national literacy teacher training. It is harsh and damning criticism to accuse those with the greatest educational and political authority to be totally lacking in accountability in this serious matter, so I think a full thread to discuss it is warranted.

I look forward to a range of contributions for a lively and detailed debate!



Post by JIMCURRAN » Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:46 pm

I’ve heard it said that 52% of primary schools in England use Jolly Phonics. As Lesley and Kiki have pointed out it might be more appropriate to say that in most of these schools Jolly Phonics is misused .
Teachers need to understand the theory and practice of good reading instruction . They need to buy in to it. They need to have a passion and commitment to it. It’s about more than just teaching reading . Teachers need to be trained by real experts. Most of the real experts I know are Reading Reform Foundation people.
Teaching reading may not be “Rocket Science” as Louisa Moats of the NICHD has claimed but neither is it as easy as ABC and when some children continue to have a significant problem even when taught appropriately the teacher does need to use a bit of Systematic Synthetic Phonics Rocket Science.

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Post by maizie » Mon Jul 26, 2004 10:08 pm

Just a personal illustration of this point. My son's girlfriend works as a nursery nurse at a local primary. She says that they use JP in YR and, I think, Y1. After that it's good old NLS. Their KS2 SATs results were awful last year, only about 50% at L4+.

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Post by bwking » Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:40 pm

Yes Maizie, JP is being used by permission of the prog powers-that-be in the early years mainly as a cosmetic exercise. As Jim said, unless the literacy teachers have been so well taught the life-expanding principles of synthetic phonics by their trainers that it lodges in their very guts the whole exercise becomes a mockery, as ill-taught bits of SP easily merge next year into the bewildering hotchpotch that is the NLS. JUST KEEP TAKING THE MESSAGEBOARDS (ESP THIS ONE) YOU TEACHERS.

Lesley, you've got to face it: socialism (like all the other isms) is dead - like God. Capitalism is the economic component of rationalism, and is here to stay. One of the main functions of govt. now is to facilitate fair entry to the race and control the more anti-social activities of the winners.



Post by Lesley » Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:53 pm


You are so right about teachers needing to understand what they are doing when teaching reading, to "buy into it," to have a passion and commitment to it.

Otherwise you get just what Maizie describes, well-intentioned people blundering around using a bit of this and a bit of that, all to no effect. Or rather, all to the wrong effect.

Talking of passion and commitment, where is Grasshopper? The obedient insect has been very quiet since his magnificent plea for rationality on Saturday night.

Trouble with the netsurfer, or have the f***wit socialist/christian educationalists at THE DEPARTMENT taken matters into their own hands, and decided to wreak a terrible revenge?

We await his return.


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Post by bwking » Tue Jul 27, 2004 12:36 am

These bloody time shifts! Came across another of these around the time of the Great Downtime.

From the void, b

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Post by drummer » Tue Jul 27, 2004 6:33 am

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:Kiki - great to have you posting on the messageboard.

We have missed your voice of measured reason SO much and wondered where you had got to.
Aw shucks Debbie :oops:

Nice to be back - I just can't keep up with all this typing is all

Best wishes


Post by Lesley » Tue Jul 27, 2004 5:38 pm

Time shifts? Void? No, no, Grasshopper, this won't do. I've been reading up on you, and have incontravertible evidence that you have been hiding in the long grass to avoid your all time biggest enemy... the shoe.

As to having to face up to things, I prefer to hang on in there in the hope that if its such a good idea, someone will have to reinvent it, and its bound to come round again, even in a somewhat modified form, and in the meantime, don't let DEBUGGERS get away with writing off 30% of the nation's children.

Rationalism I can live with..capitalism, will I ever learn to love it?


The jade minded, but troubled one.

PS: the soup recipe is vicious, avert your gaze, lest it disturb you, obedient one.

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