My name is Terry-Lynn and I am a middle years teacher in the Canadian prairies. I decided to start this blog because there is a lack of truly Canadian resources and perspective on the net. Thus the purpose of this blog is to critique websites and generally talk about my experiences as a Canadian teacher.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fluffy Pink Elephant


Literacy is a big, fluffy pink elephant hiding behind the blinds of your classroom. It looms and lurks, suspiciously staring as you teach. And yes, I'm sober as a write this. But literacy is the elephant in the room. Everyone talks about it, but nothing is ever done about it. So it is often ignored in teaching, at least in the middle years.  Literacy is very important, as every teacher knows. But its amazing how something so important is so misunderstood by most people. And sadly, some of those people are teachers.

When I went to university, I learned next to nothing about literacy. Even the class called "Literacy" lacked any knowledge about "the pink elephant". The class taught me that "kids don't know how to read, but should", and that's it. Wait, strike that...The class also taught me to keep a lot of books around.

Now the education of teachers is always inadequate for the real world. My fellow university students were a lot more attentive than my actual students. But with the lack of functional literacy being lower than expected in most of North America, it is important for teachers to drag the pink elephant into the spotlight.

I am a balance literacy middle years teacher. This means that my beliefs in how curriculum should be is different to what the curriculum actually is in the prairies. Teaching the pink elephant according to the curriculum should only take 300 minutes per week within English Language Arts. I think this is problematic to reality. One, students are still learning to read in the middle years. So 300 minutes per week may be inadequate. Two, the curriculum assumes literacy is within the domain of English Language Arts in totality, which is not true. Every school subject has their own literacy which must be taught within that subject.

On a positive note, people are finally noticing the fluffy, pink elephant. We are at the brink of a change in how literacy is taught within all subject areas. But we are in the beginning of this change. So it is still unknown whether the elephant will come out from behind the classroom's blinds, or stay there and stagnate.

The Canuck Teacher

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