Re: [xmca] Harold Rosen

From: Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon who-is-at>
Date: Mon Aug 04 2008 - 13:31:26 PDT

Carol says:
Thank you for this--to meet Harold Rosen again. I do believe that he was
possibly the first understood the nature of language and its functions in
different communities. In the early 70s as a student, we read a paper
called "The language of the hard core poor" which I believe paved the way
for descriptive sociolinguistics, in USA (Labov) and the UK.(Bernstein)
Go well, Harold and thank you.

2008/8/4 <>

> Harold Rosen, revolutionary, teacher, educationalist and co-founder of a
> Vygotskian approach to learning though and
> with English, died last week.
> Here is a great obituary of a great man in today's Guardian:
> Shirley
> Harold Rosen Leading educationist and lifelong socialist who revolutionised
> the teaching of English
> John Richmond The Guardian, Monday August 4 2008
> The educationist Harold Rosen, who has died aged 89, was a leader of
> thought in the world of English teaching in
> the second half of the 20th century. He and his colleagues forged and
> sustained a new understanding of the subject
> within the school curriculum. Beyond the constituency of English teachers
> in secondary schools, Harold's own
> teachings, writings and activities illuminated many more people's
> understanding of the relationship between
> language and learning, whatever the age of the learner and the content of
> the learning.
> In the 1950s, he was head of the English department at the pilot
> comprehensive Walworth school, south London, whose
> work has filtered into the theory and practice of progressive English
> teaching in the UK and the English-speaking
> world. Later, he was head of English at the London Institute of Education.
> In 1947 he was a founder member of the
> London Association for the Teaching of English (Late), the first local
> organisation dedicated to the improvement of
> English teaching by practitioners and the spur for the establishment of the
> National Association for the Teaching
> of English.
> In the politics of education, Harold fiercely resented - and, when he was
> still working, fought - the attacks on
> progressivism from within the Thatcher, Major and Blair governments.
> However, he lived long enough to see, very
> recently, the irony that some of the principles and practices that he had
> helped to develop being re-adopted as
> official government policy in England - without, of course, any sense on
> the part of the policymakers of the
> origins and history of those ideas.
> Harold was born in Brockton, Massachusetts to Jewish parents. At the age of
> two, he came to the East End of London
> with his mother, an active communist and inspirational woman. He attended
> local elementary and grammar schools. In
> 1935, he joined the Young Communist League, where he met Connie Isakofsky;
> their emotional partnership, marriage
> and intellectual collaboration lasted 41 years, until her death from cancer
> in 1976. In 1936, they took part in the
> battle of Cable Street. It was the urgent clarity of the needs of those
> years - to defeat fascism and to liberate
> working-class people from every sort of poverty - that formed Harold
> politically.
> In 1937, he went to study English at University College London, where he
> was a rugby player, middle-distance runner
> and political activist. After graduating in 1940, he took short-term
> teaching jobs in England during the rest of
> the war. Having been born in the US, he was officially an American citizen
> (and remained so throughout his life),
> so it was the US army that he joined when called up in 1945. He served in
> the Education Corps for two years, with
> the rank of captain, working in Frankfurt and Berlin. Returning to civilian
> life in 1947, it was clear to him, that
> the defeat of fascism must be only the necessary beginning of a shift
> towards more open and egalitarian societies
> in the victorious as well as the defeated nations.
> Harold took a teaching qualification at the University of London Institute
> of Education, and began his teaching
> career proper in schools in Leicestershire and Middlesex. The first of the
> Middlesex schools was Harrow Weald
> grammar, where he met James Britton and Nancy Martin, who became his great
> teachers. Elsewhere in the county,
> however, his career was impeded by the blacklisting of communists then
> practised in some circles of that local
> authority. But when the London County Council made its pioneering move
> towards comprehensive education, he went to
> Walworth, as head of English.
> Briefly put, the theory and practice that emerged at Walworth insists that
> the content of the curriculum that the
> teacher brings to the class must respect the culture and experience that
> the learner brings there. It sees the
> making of meaning in and through language as the essential act in which
> learners engage and which teachers help to
> bring about. It says that the best learning is a collaboration between
> teacher and learner, and between learner and
> learner.
> When he left Walworth, Harold began his long career in teacher education,
> first at Borough Road Teacher Training
> College in Isleworth, Middlesex, and then in the English department of the
> London Institute of Education, where
> Britton and Martin were, by then, the senior figures. Beginning under their
> leadership, and later as head of the
> department and a professor of the university, Harold and his colleagues
> made the department a place of national and
> international fame in the professional education of English teachers.
> Harold had the intellectual apparatus necessary for a conventional academic
> career of great distinction. But this
> was not the choice he made. His list of educational publications is long,
> but those for which he is best known are
> all collaborative efforts addressing the needs and concerns of
> practitioners: for example, The Development of
> Writing Abilities 11-18, with Britton and others (1975); Language, the
> Learner and the School, with Britton and
> Douglas Barnes (first published 1969), and The Language of Primary-School
> Children (1973), written with Connie,
> herself an inspiring figure in progressive primary education.
> Harold left the British Communist party in 1957, having decided it was no
> longer likely to help bring about the
> social change he desired. But he remained all his life a socialist, as
> fiercely critical of the evils which America
> has brought upon the world, sometimes with British assistance, as he was
> sorrowful at the dashing of the hopes of
> his youth with regard to the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc.
> Harold loved to watch England play rugby on television, especially when I
> was in the armchair next to him. He was
> an ardent Arsenal fan. His second wife, Betty, whom he married in 1978,
> cared for him with deep devotion in his
> last years. Also an English teacher, she is the author of books on
> narrative and storytelling, and it was partly
> under her influence that Harold's later educational writing focused on the
> nature and role of narrative in our
> ability to conceptualise and communicate. Mentally, he remained trenchant
> and analytical until the end, and joyful
> at news of gains in the long educational revolution in which he had played
> so prominent a part.
> Betty survives him, as do the sons of his first marriage, Brian and the
> children's writer and poet Michael, his
> stepchildren Ian, Joanna and Rosalind, 10 grandchildren and one
> great-grandchild.
> Harold Rosen, educationist, born June 25 1919; died July 31 2008
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Received on Mon Aug 4 13:32 PDT 2008

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