Friday, October 4, 2013

Learn 2 Read 4 Life

November sees the inaugural conference for the Reading4Life organisation in Uppsala, Sweden entitled "Education for Social Justice." The name says it all, really! But, just in case you are not clear what Reading4Life might be about, here is their mission:
Reading for Life works towards the goal of democratising education so that all learners are given the best opportunities to develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally regardless of age, sex, ethnicity or social background and have available a range of options to enable them to participate fully in society.

Based on the successes of ReadingToLearn, this European organisation has already found partners in at least 8 countries, and counting.
The principles and philosophy that the organisation are based on also provide a clear picture of their understanding of learning and education:
Principles and philosophy 
Reading for Life’s work is based upon the beliefs that:
  • knowledge is a social construct,
  • linguistic and cognitive development are inextricably linked and dependent on social interaction,
  • school learning depends on classroom interactions, so teacher–student interactions have a powerful impact on learning and the construction of learner identity,
  • learning is fostered through a range of different experiences and reflection from multiple perspectives so learning occurs best in heterogeneous groups,
  • powerful learning occurs by experiencing success in accomplishing challenging tasks. Therefore schools/teachers need to carefully plan how to support or “scaffold” learners so that they move through continuous cycles of success,
  • language is the most important tool for learning. Therefore schools/teachers not only need to teach explicitly through language but they must also teach how language operates to make meaning in all subject areas. Therefore chlidren/students learn language, learn through language and learn about language,
  • language is the most effective tool for self-expression, communication and exercising power and influence. Therefore, all children/students need to understand and learn to use language for a variety of purposes, so that everybody has equal opportunities to make an impact and influence the development of society,
  • while competence in the official language of any country is an essential goal for education, all languages are important, for the individual and for society at large. Therefore, students’ knowledge of any language must be encouraged and supported by schools as well as the learning of new languages
  • the role of the teacher is to scaffold student learning by modelling, guiding and joint work in students’ “Zone of Proximal Development” (Vygotsky). A socio-cultural, teaching-learning centred, model of learning supports the notion of scaffolding rather than dichotomies such as teacher-centred (traditional) or student-centred (progressive/constructivist) models of teaching and learning 
  • school development is best promoted in ”learning organisations” where ideas and pedagogies are critiqued and tested in the classroom through action research. Reading for Life does not believe that school improvement will be achieved by privatisation and competition.
Just to give us a further insight into the principles of the organisation and how it operates, here are some interviews with one its main founders, Dr. David Rose

Introduction to Reading To Learn

More information on Reading to Learn

A Talk by David Rose (thanks to "Manxman" Alan Hess for sharing this)

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