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, July 11, 2007

time to learn

The majority of learners (35) reported that estimating how long it will take to reach a goal was difficult. Many learners seemed to link time limits with being pressured or rushed, something they needed to avoid to be successful. One learner reported, “For me, I don’t count times. If you put a time, it’s like a rush and you do everything wrong.” George felt that “sometimes timed goals lead to failure and depression.” These typical responses did not appear to be linked to learners’ length of time in their programs. ...

Fifteen learners said that to commit to a timeline would be setting themselves up for disappointment and perhaps failure. For many of these learners, estimating a timeline for their learning brought up negative memories from past school experiences where they had not completed their education, a particular course or covered an academic concept in the time allotted. Some expressed a fear that if you did not reach your stated goal within an estimated time frame, you would be asked to leave the program, even when clearly this was not a program policy or practice.

Five learners described learning as a life-long pursuit, so timelines were not necessary. Three learners in this category participated in their respective programs, worked towards and achieved specific short-term goals and then exited. They returned to the program when they required specific literacy skills and knowledge for another goal. For example, Venus participated in her literacy program a few years ago with the aim to read and write for everyday purposes, a goal she accomplished. Recently she returned to her literacy program to work on understanding and managing household bills.

Five learners said it was difficult to determine how long the learning would take due to diverse changing life circumstances. Estimating how long it will take to reach goals could be affected by issues such as daycare, employment, health, or part time versus full time programs. For many of the women who were single parents, the availability of daycare and the health of their school age children often interrupted participation in their programs.

Eight learners were not sure how long it would take to reach their goals; however, they did not provide explanations for their uncertainty.

from I Open Up: Exploring Learners' Perspectives on Progress
by Susan Lefebvre, Patricia Belding, Mary Brehaut, Sarah Dermer, Anne-Marie Kaskens, Emily Lord, Wayne McKay and Nadine Sookermany

You can listen to Nadine and Susan talk about this project here.


Nancy Friday said...

I have read the full report that you have drawn the quotes from Tracey and it is such a breath of fresh and invigorating air (on a very hot and smoggy day here in Toronto) to read these students voices and sane wisdom in your blog post today.

Food for the soul. Spa-ing!

Great to hear Nadine and Susan as well.

I wish we could do away with a lot of the bureaucracy of the world and just really listen to each other and respond as our skills and gifts allow. I think we would just slow down and our time would really be spent meaningfully.

These days it just feels like we need to be proving everything to some kind of system. What's wrong with just doing?


Anonymous said...

A friend just returned from seeing the latest Harry Potter movie (Order of the Phoenix). Neither she nor I have read the book that it's based on, but one of the villains of the piece is a representative of the government. The government rep is out of touch with reality and intent on maintaining the government's version of reality. To do so, the representative develops more and more elaborate rules for the school and students to follow. Students are required to develop skills that are not useful for what they really need to do. When the students realize they are not learning what they need, they begin to teach themselves.

Sounds like the kind of parable literacy workers need to keep us going in the face of layoffs and pervasive sadness... I can see why Harry Potter has so many adult fans!

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