by Katrina Grieve
Over the last several months I have been following an online discussion in the United States regarding literacy policy. I have been struck by the similarities in discussions about accountability, and the pressures that result when government funders attempt to measure the impact of the money they spend in adult literacy programs. In the US, things are taken a step further in that there has been increasing pressure to use standardized tests to measure literacy gains. What is obvious from these discussions is that there is a huge gap in how learners, practitioners, administrators, and government decisionmakers think about these issues and in the language they use.
While many practitioners are reluctant to use standardized systems of
levels to report
— So how do we measure success in learning?
Similar discussions on accountability can be heard across Ontario programs.
In the US, many small community-based programs have dropped out of
the official Adult Education System because they were unable or unwilling
to meet the accountability expectations of government funders, which
placed a huge burden on their programs without accurately reflecting
the kind of learning that was taking place. And so I pose the question:
You can find the discussion at: http://lists.literacytent.org/mailman/listinfo/aaace-nla
by Susan Lefebvre
I have just finished reading an article titled Education for the Soul by Jack Miller (1996), an educator at OISE. He claims that the twentieth
century has not been good for the soul and that a mechanized approach
to living has contributed to the loss of soul. The article resonated
with me, as he described a society that values a
Robert Sardello (1992) contends that education:
My musings may give the impression that I am pessimistic, but for the most part when I focus on the learners and not on policy demands, I am most hopeful. I see many moments of spontaneous insights and unexpected learnings that are more valuable than any Level indicators. I witness a vitality and excitement in learners which inspires, motivates and feeds their souls.
I like what Miller had to say about soul: As a source of energy we can sometimes feel the soul expand. A beautiful piece of music can make our souls feel expansive; likewise, in a threatening or fearful situation, we can feel our souls contract or shrink. A soulful curriculum would provide a nourishing environment for the soul's expansion and animation.
Miller also suggests we, as teachers, should bring our souls to the classroom.
Two qualities that the soulful teacher can bring to the classroom are
presence and caring. Presence arises from mindfulness where the teacher
is capable of listening deeply. Caring can encourage the development
of community in the classroom. I have observed and been part of this
sense of community in groups at Literacy for East Toronto. I believe
this community helps to keep learners
Miller, J.P. Education for the Soul Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto Paper presented at AME, November 15, 1996
The Literacy Enquirer
The Literacy Enquirer is published by the policy learning circle. The policy learning circle meets informally from time to time in a variety of venues to discuss how practitioners can have input into policy decisions and how to bring our knowledge to the policymaking process.
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Any short (500 words or less) articles that question or challenge dominant ways of thinking about adult literacy will be accepted.
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