A range of learner-centred literacy programming
This section turns attention from the overall extent of literacy programming,
to its form — and to questions about general directions of development.
It could be thought of as discussing a yet-to-be-realized
"strategy" for adult literacy education.
Policy declarations, whether from governments, advisory bodies, or
practitioners organizations, often describe ideals for literacy programming.
Two common themes are the importance of learner-centred and community-oriented
programming, and of a range of programming to meet the range of learners'
needs. Achieving a range of learner-centred programming depends not
only on knowledge and skill in the literacy field, but also upon overall
policy and strategy for literacy. Some aspects work to attain these
ideals, in both programming practice and policy, are discussed in this
From packaged to learner-centred teaching practice
Learner-centredness is a central theme in literacy work. Indeed learner-centredness
could be called the wisdom of literacy work. It suggests starting teaching
(and evaluation) with the individual or collective knowledge and experience
of students. There is extensive experimentation in learner-centred literacy
work, in areas including student writing;
approaches to curriculum; mother-tongue literacy teaching; involving
students in program control; and the use of volunteers.
Practitioners are learning to shift from structured program packages
and tutoring routines to more flexible and responsive teaching practices.
In some programs, (including certain
with one-to-one teaching and certain institutional continuous-entry
programs), instruction is
"individualized" in the sense that
it employs self-paced program packages. Individuals can begin at any
point in the sequence, and proceed at various speeds. Specially designed
pre-tests and post-tests, integrated with study modules, strictly define
the learning process. Some such program packages are workbooks; others
are computerized. An example of the latter is the YES Canada Pathfinder
program, a computerized-managed instructional system based on an amalgam
of provincial secondary curricula. Such program packages, along with
highly structured tutoring schemes, and publishers' workbooks, have
allowed programs to be set up where experienced teachers are not available
or where administrators are skeptical of innovation. Yet the predominant
discussion within literacy work emphasizes flexibility in response to
students, and the bureaucratization of learning can often be avoided.
Documentation of programs shifting from packaged to more responsive
teaching and curricular practices is important.