Session 1: Dragons

“I’m an early bird, partly because I like to have some quiet time and partly because by 9am emails begin arriving, the phone starts ringing and I have dragons to kill of one sort or another.” I know how you feel, Andrew Motion. I have a few too many dragons to kill right now.

The course, ‘Reframing Literacy in the 21st Century, has just begun and there is much to think about. An intense hour spent with a room of eight year olds, trying to get to the bottom of the meaning of ‘interesting’ words, was not dissimilar to time spent with a group of adults trying to define ‘literature’. One child shines when she says ‘gold’ is an interesting word because it is her second-favourite colour and it sparkles.

To help us postgraduates with our dragons, we have a Dungeon Master (aka Julie McAdam) to keep things on track. So here are some thoughts.

Definitions of literacy and literature seem hard to pin down as we wrestle with our own and other people’s ideas of how we communicate and what makes it a good quality form of communication. It is difficult to come up with one set of agreed definitions and this, of course, influences what happens in schools too. Hannon comments that the only certain things about changes to any curriculum are “that they will be decided politically and that they will not be permanent.” It isn’t reassuring to know that such decisions are political. Over the years, various branches of government have done a pretty good job at scaring people about the pace of change, the technologies about which we know nothing, teachers’  ignorance of the jobs children will need to do in the future. Scaremongering is never productive. Hannon sensibly states “… that we teach what is important about written language – those essentials which can be expected to endure in future contexts.”

Another thought is that most people seem to love stories but many people don’t seem to like reading. I have been in a Book Group for eleven years and we all do like reading. We also like to talk a lot, just not much about books. Many children can talk for a long time about a book, especially when they have listened to the story and not read it.

Christina on the course is mad about Dungeons and Dragons. My knowledge of it is very basic so I googled it one night. What a fantastic language all of its own it has! It was quite exciting. I fancy getting a few melee weapons of my own to scare off those dragons. And I’d love it if Christina created a Dungeons and Dragons game as her learning journal.


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