Lost the plot?

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Susan Godsland
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Lost the plot?

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:32 pm

http://www.economist.com/world/britain/ ... d=10978480
Why storytime may be ending for British children

THE children's book fair in Bologna this week was full of the bubble and squeak that such events elicit. But a serious sub-theme lurked: how to revive picture books, those lavishly illustrated creations that teach children to love books long before they can read them.

Britons have been market leaders in the field since Kate Greenaway filled books with her delicately garbed girls in the 1880s and Beatrix Potter came up with Peter Rabbit 20 years later. Modern stars include Julia Donaldson, of “The Gruffalo” fame, and Michael Rosen. But a growing number of writers and illustrators warn that British picture books are now in danger.

All publishers find it hard to deal with cut-price internet selling, harder-nosed high-street booksellers and people's increasing reluctance to read. Picture books have a particular problem: they cost a bomb to produce, and unless they are seen and handled, their price can seem prohibitive. Sales in Britain dropped sharply last year, bookstores say, and so has shelf-space for them.

So most picture books cannot be published for British readers alone—but the international market is less welcoming than it was. Americans are favouring home-grown talent, says Wayne Winstone, who sells children's books, and eastern Europeans and Asians are developing their own distinctive styles of illustration. Michael Rosen blames the obsession with synthetic phonics for reducing children's reading horizons to badly drawn leaflets. For Jane Ray, an illustrator, a “culture of safety” among publishers has much to answer for.

Not all are quite so gloomy. The Booktrust, a charity, has launched the Big Picture campaign to raise the profile of picture books. At the Illustration Cupboard, a London gallery, John Huddy reckons the market is correcting itself, rooting out inadequate contenders. Panicky book folk may be talking their business down—but new ways to sell cheaper products across borders must certainly loom.
Hmmm. SP will be blamed for climate change, next ;-)

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:10 am

Michael Rosen really does have a bee in his bonnet doesn't he!

What a personal crusade he has taken upon himself to rubbish the very method which is our best plan for eradicating illiteracy!

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Post by chew8 » Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:12 am

Unfortunately, the impact of initial synthetic phonics teaching on reading for pleasure won't be seen until 3 years or so after this kind of teaching becomes really widespread - it probably can't be seen until there has been enough time for most children to become 'free readers'.

This kind of time-lag is often a problem in education. I used to find it very frustrating, when I was teaching students aged 16+, that so many years had elapsed since the time they were beginners that most people couldn't see any obvious link between the way they had been taught as beginners and the problems they now had.

Jenny C.

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Post by g.carter » Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:30 am

Until the nettle is grasped and a root and branch pruning of the primary curriculum takes place along with curtailment of the activities of the Early Years people - there will be less and less time for story books and oral story-telling.
Unfortunately this doesn't sit well with the need to provide new initiatives and accompanying spin to justify education, education, education (and how hollow that sounds now!).

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Post by elsy » Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:12 pm

Hmmm. SP will be blamed for climate change, next
But of course, Susan. It's all that hot air, don't you know!

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'Michael Rosen on Literacy' - Teachers TV

Post by nelly » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:10 pm

I’ve just watched a video on Teachers TV 'Michael Rosen on Literacy'. This is the first time I’ve seen any of his programmes. I watched with disbelief as he argued against teaching phonics and argued for learning 'whole words'. It was quite painful to watch as he and Dr. Bethan Marshall, Senior Lecturer, Kings College London argued against using a phonics approach. Dominic Wyse, Lecturer, University of Cambridge and John Hickman, Secondary Strategy Manager, Redbridge LEA, were also interviewed and spoke against phonics. Fortunately, there is a counter argument for phonics by Professor Rhona Stainthorp, Institute of Education. Here’s the link to watch the programme online: http://www.teachers.tv/video/5417 I’ve left comments saying what I thought. :mad: Would anyone else like to comment?

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Post by Hammered » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:09 pm

The comments left by others are very disturbing.

'I'm a PGCE student and within 6 weeks of my course, I completely and 100% agree with Michael Rosen. Perhaps phonics works, but where is the fun in it?'

Errr... !!!!!!

Rhona Stainthorp is coming to speak to our 'CatchUp'-supporting LA at our SENCo conference next term so am vey keen to see the reaction from everyone.

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Post by nelly » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:37 pm

I don't know whether or not you've had the opportunity to teach phonics during your PGCE. It is great fun, interactive and the children love it!

Would be interested to hear about your conference with Prof. Rhona Stainthorp.

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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:38 pm

I wonder what 'content' Rhona will include?

There's so much 'diplomacy' and 'politics' evident in education and amongst people in high places, so who would point out at 'high levels' that the Rose recommendations clash with the Reading Recovery and Catch Up approaches?

If enough people did point out the contradictions, however, the government would presumably have to address them instead of getting away with them.

Carpets and sweeping spring to mind! :???:

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Post by Kat » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:48 pm

Hammered wrote:

'I'm a PGCE student and within 6 weeks of my course, I completely and 100% agree with Michael Rosen. Perhaps phonics works, but where is the fun in it?'
I did a double take for a minute there Hammered- I missed the quotation marks and I thought you were expressing your own view!!

P.S. Were this true, the thread title seemed very apt!

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Post by Hammered » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:30 pm

Yes that certainly wasn't my opinion (although it is true I didn't get taught how to teach phonics on my PGCE course, although that is another matter).

A couple of my colleagues have actually just finished a masters module on early reading and writing with Rhona (she is now at Reading Uni). I have had some interesting discussions with them regarding the content of their course. From what I gather she was less than positive about Catch-Up and RR - but not exactly sure the details of these concerns. I'm almost certain she doesn't tow the IoE line with the success of RR - but again these are only comments I have picked up.

I too am interested to see her content - especially as our speaker a couple of years ago was Jean Gross just at the beginning of ECaR.

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Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:46 pm

I have had some contact with Rhona Stainthorp and have found her good. Remember that she was joint author, with Morag Stuart, of Appendix 1 in the Rose report. If she (Rhona S.) is 'less than positive' about Reading Recovery, she isn't the only person at the London Institute of Education to feel that way.

Jenny C.

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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:12 pm

So I wonder if all these 'educated' people are prepared to 'come out of the closet' in any significant way?

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Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:43 pm

There's more than one way to 'come out of the closet'. People may be doing very useful work in their own professional way without our getting to hear about it.

Jenny C.

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Post by nelly » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:55 pm

Sorry Hammered - I totally missed the quotation marks and thought that was your view!

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