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RE: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia

I think there is a big affective difference between the way we learn first languages (or multiple mother, father and grandmother tongues) and the way we learn studied languages. I was taught French all through school but learned Italian by spending the best part of a year in Italy and i am conscious of differences in HOW I know each of these languages (and English). I have more of a feel for whether or not something sounds right in Italian but I know I know a lot more about the workings of French grammar.

I wonder how useful it is to teach grammar, as a formal system of rules, to children who are still picking up on the 'feel' of their language. I still think that reading well written prose is probably the best way to develop this feel (picking up a set of 'intuitive' patterns about 'the done thing' or 'what people do, as a rule') but of course this helps to develop a 'gut feeling' about the grammar of WRITTEN language - we also need plenty of exposure to different styles of spoken language so that we can develop sensitivities to what works when and with whom (I never had much time for those primary schools which insisted that children must only be exposed to one, 'correct' way of forming letters - one font - for fear of confusing them!).

The time for learning about conventional rules AS rules may be when we start to ask questions about why some people say it this way and some say it that way. We know from studies of language acquisition that a huge amount of time can be wasted on trying to condition children to follow a rule which they have not yet noticed.

All the best,


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden [ablunden@mira.net]
Sent: 02 March 2010 02:21
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia

Our immensely incompetent Labor Government yesterday
announced their new national curriculum for schools
(formerly this was a state responsibility).

It features the teaching of history from the very beginning,
including indigenous history (this is an unambiguous good)
and emphasises the 3 Rs, including grammar. No curriculum
has been set yet in Geography and other subjects.


Helen raised with me off-line this problem of reintroducing
the teaching of grammar: who is going to educate the
educators? Anyone under 55 today did not learn grammar at
school or until they did a foreign language, when they
learnt the grammar of the other language. (Grammar means
"Which icon do I click now?")

What do xmca-ers think about teaching grammar? (I am in favour.)

Also, many progressive educators here are opposed to
curricula in toto: education should be about learning not
content. Do xmca-ers agree?

Given the disastrous implementation of policies by this
government over the past 2 years, I fear for our education
system. What do people think?


Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea

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