Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Education Manifestos

So lately I've been reading up on various Manifestos and while I don't necessarily agree with everything that's written, I think the more important thing for me is that it provokes me into deliberating.

The first one I'd like to share is Beyond Snobbery: Grammar Need Not Be Cruel to be Cool by June Casagrande:
We can take apart the gears of any whole sentence, reassemble them in different ways, replace certain parts with other parts and retain the same meaning or change it subtly or drastically.

We can learn these things one by one, over a whole lifetime, enjoying the feeling of being “smart” without having to be “smarter than.”

Focusing on others’ language shortcomings is a sucker’s game. Sure, it can make us feel big in the short term. But it’s just a matter of time till we get knocked on our butts. And that sucks the fun and excitement out of language faster than you can say “dangling participle.”
Up next is How to Get Better Teachers--and Treat Them Right by Chester E. Finn, Jr.:
Training and certification arenʼt the whole story, either. The personnel practices of
the teaching field are archaic and bureaucratic. Licensure is often followed by a hiring
sequence in which the likeliest openings for a novice are in the worst schools, there
to be hurled into a classroom and left pretty much alone with a bunch of demanding
kids and little opportunity for colleagueship, professional growth, or mentoring by
expert teachers.

On top of that, the expert teachers themselves get no tangible rewards; theyʼre paid
exactly the same as ordinary (and weak) instructors. Longevity and paper credentials bring more money, but effectiveness does not. Nor does it matter whether one is a high school chemistry teacher whose other job opportunities pay $100,000 or a middle school social studies teacher whose nonteaching options are far less lucrative. Their salaries remain identical. The same spurious equality holds for teachers in tough inner-city classroom situations and those in cushier environments.
The last one, although for the most part sounds more like a plug rather than a manifesto in itself (and applies to aUS context rather than the Philippines), is With Books Falling From the Sky: A Discourse on Literacy by Roxanne Coady:
Consider these effects of low literacy:
  • 43% of adults with Level 1 reading skills are living in poverty, compared to 4% of those at Level 5 literacy levels
  • The likelihood of being on welfare goes up as literacy levels go down. 3 out of 4 food stamp recipients read at the two lowest levels.
  • Adults at Level 1 earned a median income of $240 per week compared to $681 per week for those at Level 5.
  • Adults at Level 1 worked 19 weeks per year compared to 44 weeks for those at Level 5.
  • Seven out of 10 prisoners performed at the lowest two literacy levels.

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