I’ve just read Scott Thornbury’s latest (and “last“) post on his wonderful blog – An A-Z of ELT.
I was gob-smacked!
What a way to go out…with a wonderful list of “must-read” posts!
Not to worry…he’ll have a new one for us after Summer!
Scott’s blog personifies…for me…the thunks that characterise an educator with a high degree of “fluency” in what I have dubbed EDUcational Literacy (esp. for those in the world of ELT) – just take a look at the 30 posts he highlights in that last post of his!
Soooooo much great “bedtime” reading for the Summer!
Yeah…you guessed it! I was in the middle of doing my own “Sunday Post” when Scott’s landed in my in-box! But, I meant what I said…he just gave me a nice “hook”!
“What exactly is EDUcational Literacy”?
Pretty reasonable question, actually!
In a nutshell:
In a way, Educational Literacy (let’s stick with the abbreviation – EdL) is something that should concern everyone on the planet. Any parent wishing to help his or her child make “wise” decisions about schools, colleges or university – needs to have EdL. Any teacher walking into a classroom (for the “first” or the “50,000th” time) needs to have a lot of EdL, if she wants to be truly effective.
EdL is something parents, students, teachers, educational administrators or anyone involved or interested in the world of learning (including, dare I say, media representatives, publishers and politicians) – must have!
In the case of teachers, EdL is more than the teaching-related knowledge and skills required to manage a classroom, present content and practice teaching points – that is known as Pedagogic Literacy. Nor is also just our knowledge of grammar, structure and vocabulary (major components of Disciplinary Literacy – in the world of ELL and ELT).
It touches on a teacher’s beliefs and values, the way she interacts with her learners and the extent to which she reflects on her own practice – to grow professionally and create even “better” LEARNing opportunities for those around her.
As such, EdL is a multi-dimensional construct – a true “multiple literacy”. It is not simply the product of adding to “a stack of facts and figures” or throwing more tools into “a bag o’ tricks” – it is experienced and lived through the synaptic-type interrelationships between a number of literacies (and fluencies)…
EdL is also something that many people (sadly) do not possess – and this is what lies at the heart of many of the challenges we face in education.
- Parents that tell teachers that their job is to “create” an engineer or doctor out of “Little Mehmet” – have low levels of EdL…sorry mum (and dad)!
- Students that “blame” their failure on a given exam or the “academic clubs” that manipulate exam cut-offs – have low levels of EdL…sorry guys, time to take some responsibility (unless, that is, their educators also happen to have low levels of “Assessment Literacy”)!
- Lecturers and teachers that do not even bother to learn the names of their students or “care” what these students “bring” to the classroom – have low levels of EdL…no apologies required here!
- Educational Managers (up to and including Principals and Rectors) who value their “seat” more than the LEARNing of their learners and still fail to see the importance of “walking-the-talk” - have low levels of EdL…guys, just move aside (the 21stCentury is here)!
- Schools that live off the “fat” (or prestige) of the “past” or try to “fake-it-till-they-make-it” – have amazingly low levels of EdL…time to “get real” and evidence what you “say” you “are”!
- Media representatives that report the “league tables” without helping students and their parents to ask the right questions about how the “rankings” were carried out – have no EdL wotsoever…come on, guys – earn your pay-cheques!
- Publishers who tell educators/teacher-trainers to put on a “show” and not bother with all that “LEARNing stuff” – fail the “EdL test”…totally…!
- Politicians…Mmmmm…hey, who the hell said it was possible to “save every soul”!?!?
You get the idea!
EdL is essentially “realized” (and developed or learned) through the application of Critical Literacy to allthingseducation – critical reflection as applied to LEARNing and TEACHing.
However, because of the very nature of both LEARNing and TEACHing, EdL has a powerful emotional component. EdL appreciates that EDUcation and LEARNing are fundamentally “emotional experiences” that require Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is also brought to bear on matters of LEARNing and TEACHing.
This is why LEARNing and TEACHing professionals need to exhibit high levels of Emotional Literacy:
- Emotional sensitivity
- Emotional memory
- Emotional problem-solving ability
- Emotional learning ability
and, to borrow from Gardner:
- “Intrapersonal Intelligence”
- “Interpersonal Intelligence”
With so many abilities, skills and talents required of TEACHers…tell me again:
I must have missed that memo!
EdL thus describes what an individual (especially EDUcators) “thinks” or “knows” about EDUcation, LEARNing and TEACHing, what s/he “does” with what s/he knows and also what s/he does to “improve” what s/he knows, does and feels in regard to allthingsEDUcation.
EdL also respects the role of the “professional teacher“ – and what an “effective” teacher can do with what s/he can do with what s/he knows – as such, Pedagogic Literacy is also a focus of its attention, as is Curriculum Literacy and Assessment Literacy.
The problem is, taking Assessment Literacy as an example:
Assessment Literacy is perhaps the best-known of the components that make up EdL – well, in educational reading circles at least. It has been described in the following way:
BUT…I have to admit…I prefer this one:
If most of us were really, really honest…we’d recognise that we all need to do a bit of LEARNing in this area – especially, when we remember these two little thunks…
And…then…we have the matter of Curriculum Literacy!
Have YOU…has YOUR school (and its leaders):
Scott does! Thanks for the thunks. brother…