Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

just clever enough

Sue Palmer is a literacy specialist from the UK and writes about impact of technology on children. In 2002, Sue became convinced that social and cultural changes underpinned by technological progress were affecting many children’s potential to learn, especially to learn the skills of literacy. Her research expanded to cover other aspects of child development, culminating in 2006 in the publication of Toxic Childhood: how modern life is damaging our children…and what we can do about it.

She writes about children and teachers of children but I find some of what she has to say quite relevant to our profession as well ... what do you think?

Here is an excerpt from Sue Palmer's article Too Clever to Care. Replace 'teaching assistant' with 'volunteer tutor' and doesn't this sound a little familiar?

Nurses ‘too clever’ to care said the headline. Apparently nurses today are so highly qualified for managerial and clinical tasks that basic nursing care is often delegated to unqualified ‘healthcare assistants’. Some nurses are unhappy about this, as they believe close contact with patients is important to understanding their medical condition.

It’s a familiar dilemma. In our own profession, where teachers are increasingly caught up in bureaucracy and additional responsibilities, much day-to-day contact with children now falls to teaching assistants. I often meet teachers who feel they’ve been dragged away from the job they love, and consigned to long hours of planning, target-setting, record-keeping and so on. Some even take early retirement and come back as teaching assistants, so they can enjoy working with children without all the attendant bureaucratic chores. ...

...Over the last few years, however, it’s been increasingly accepted that teaching assistants should assume more of the hands-on element of teaching – and the workload agreement points the way to even more of this. At the same time, our government seems obsessed by the prospect of using information technology to assess and track pupils’ progress and, through the medium of the forthcoming digital curriculum, even to take over some aspects of teaching.

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