10 ideas changing the face of English teaching…?

Time magazine’s 10 ideas that are changing the world (last week’s edition) has seen me mulling over what an educationally themed list, with an English twist, might look like?

Everyone loves a list. There’ll be something to condemn, something thing that strikes a chord and plenty of mulling about what has been omitted.

Here’s my attempt…other ideas welcomed!

10 Ideas that are changing the NZ English teacher’s world

  1. Technology: ‘Web 2.0’ tools such as blogs, wikis et al. have the potential to change the concept of ‘authentic audience’ forever, not to mention the vast array of different ways in which students can now communicate ideas that might previously have been the domain of graphics / IT experts. Everyone can publish. Everyone can share and collaborate.

2. Changing NZ demographics: it’s well documented that the cultural and social mix in NZ is changing, from an aging teacher population to the falling Pakeha population; from the impact of immigration to the increase in Māori and Pasifika populations. What might this mean for our classroom practice? For our notion of prior knowledge and classroom culture?

3. Competencies, not content: we are moving away from covering the visual, oral and written strands (thou shalt teach a novel, a film and do a speech) to the ways in which all texts are accessed, engaged with and produced. A subtle difference but, arguably, the latter puts the long game of ‘lifelong learning’ ahead of next term’s exam. The learners need to know how they are learning, take part in monitoring their progress and actively work towards their own futures. English is the only subject to have an AO that specifically refers to metacognitive skills, ‘Processes and Strategies.’

4. Media literacy: goes hand in hand with No. 1 and No. 3. All that information needs to be carefully sifted, managed, interpreted and organised. Being media literate in the 21st Century means being able to communicate using 21st Century practices.

5. Evidence-based practice: no more time for hunches or happy accidents. The data drives the planning drives the practice drives the evaluation drives the reflection drives the next collection of data.

6.Changing language: if u cn rd ths u r gtng mi pt. Ou, peut-etre, c’est important pour vous connaissez qu’il y a beaucoup des personnes pour qui l’anglais ce n’est pas les langue premiere.


7.The nature of ‘literature’: Links to No. 1: hyperfiction (consider the superb Six Stories, from a previous post), graphic novels, blogs (but of course…), wikis…the linear narrative gives way to non-linearity and reader participation, words give way to graphics, the writer can be writers, and publication may never see a piece of paper. What is the new ‘literature’? And in this age of shared ownership of knowledge, has the era of ‘approved’, ‘good’, ‘worthy’ literature been confined to the past?

8. Literacy in English: as a teacher-trainee (back in the ’90s, man), it was an unspoken assumption that secondary students would somehow arrive in my classroom as fully formed, fully functioning readers. What did we need to know of literacy? Surely that was the job of the primary teachers? Er, no. It is now painfully clear that, at every age-level, all our students are on their own literacy trajectory. And it’s everyone’s job, not just that of the English teachers, to work with young people as they learn to read and write like us.

9. The learner…comes first. Gone are the days of, “It’s Term 2 so I’m teaching the novel and thank goodness I’ve got all the worksheets from last year (and the year before.” Not that we need to throw last year’s planning baby out with this year’s bathwater…but each year brings a new wave of fresh challenges sitting before us. If we aren’t adapting the content to allow them to engage with it where and when they are ready, what exactly are we doing?

10. Local culture, global culture: clips of Hamlet on YouTube…students’ digital essays on the intranet…the concept of ‘beyond the text’ discussion…1.2 Formal Writing questions on global warming and teenage drivers…sustainable education…competencies for a changing world. We are not alone. Our students are part of the class, the whanāu, the school, the town, the country and on and out. How is this impacting on what we do?

Image sources: No. 1 [images.salon.com/…/08/10/37signals/story.jpg]; No. 2 [www.ecoquest.unh.edu]; No. 3[ocw.mit.edu/…/0/Course_CMS_image.jpg]; No. 4 [nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz]; No. 4 [ocw.mit.edu]; No. 5 [www.glerl.noaa.gov]; No. 6[justinsimoni.com]; No. 7[oursaviorhoneycreek.blogspot.com]; No. 8 [www.wpclipart.com]; No. 9[see previous post]; No. 10 ][www.merckfrosst.ca]

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