MA CALL students and staff were really energised by a recent CRACL presentation by Sue Ellis. We were especially drawn to the three domains of literacy that Sue used to enable trainee teachers to try new ways of working with young readers. We all felt that the model was useful not only to help highlight the sorts of literacies that are most valued and neglected in schools, but also as a way of thinking about potentially more integrated approaches to teaching literacy. We also responded to the way that the research Sue drew on positioned teachers as having choice and agency rather than being victims of an overtly performative culture.
As Brittany Wright elaborates:
The term ‘intervention’ has become so ubiquitous within schools that it has taken on a mechanical, robotic connotation that can speak more of Cybermen than success. A child underachieves. The child is identified as requiring ‘intervention’. The child achieves. Woe betide any student (and their teacher, for that matter) who does not achieve in line with age-related expectations following the ‘procedure’. I’m being hyperbolic, but the point is that, for many teachers, the term ‘intervention’ is part of the language associated with the high-stakes accountability, performance of success, and target-focused culture of education in England.
In contrast, the fantastic session that Sue Ellis delivered at the School of Education on Tuesday 14th November put the pupil firmly at the heart of the intervention process. Ellis explained the usefulness and far-reaching applications of the University of Strathclyde’s three domains model of literacy, emphasising that consideration of the socio-cultural and personal/social identity domains of a learner does not necessitate the exclusion of cognitive concerns, but can actually be used in order to support the learner’s literacy. This comprehensive, all-encompassing approach is not only of paramount importance in supporting learners to make progress, but it also shows that kindness and academic progress are not mutually exclusive.
Sue Ellis reminded me that, behind all of the newspaper headlines relating to low levels of student wellbeing, teacher stress levels, and general educational doom and gloom, there are inspiring practitioners who are making the difference for their learners with integrity, inquisitiveness, and, most importantly, kindness as their driving principles. Looking across a room filled with educators, working across a variety of fields, on a dark and wintry Tuesday evening reminded me of the strength of our education sector. Ellis reminded me of our heart. It has always been, and will remain, in the right place.
Chaofan Sun added:
As far as I am concerned, the most impressive part of Sue’s lecture, apart from pupils’ interesting writing, is her ‘3 Domain’ Model. It really makes sense to me, because actually we take literacy as autonomous skill for granted. On the official level, in National Chinese Curriculum Standards for Primary School, there are 3 dimensional targets, which are Knowledge & Skills, Process & Step, Emotional attitude & values in the teaching of every text. Then when it comes to the practical level, in strict accordance with this framework, during the everyday designing and teaching process, teachers unconsciously attach great importance to cognitive knowledge and skills. Maybe that is because in China, study was/is the only way to achieve social mobility, and the further you go to the academic ivory tower the farther you will be from the real-life world.
Also Sue’s model makes sense to my study on this course. Apart from Goffman’s theory, nearly all of the content is brand new to me. I am literally immersed in and inspired by the topic of creativity and ways of working. Because of the strict division of the Chinese academic system, some of the creative activities are scarcely referred at the majority of kinderkartens.
Seminars are so important for introducing new work and new ways of drawing on existing research. We’d like to thank Sue for giving us so much to think about and if you would like to access the slides Sue used in her talk you can download them here.
Post written by Becky Parry.