Literacy

A response to the Government’s new Literacy Strategy

Dr Rebecca Jesson
March 29, 2022
Literacy

A response to the Government’s new Literacy Strategy

Dr Rebecca Jesson
Dr Rebecca Jesson
March 29, 2022

I applaud the Government for listening to the voices of educators and taking on education’s ‘gritty issues’ in a planned approach.

The Literacy & Communication Strategy is an invitation to educators to collectively change how we think about literacy and how we work together. It extends beyond well trodden debates about reading and writing, and takes a wider view of literacy to include oral languages and listening skills as well as digital literacy which is critical to our world today.  

The commitment to digital literacy

To thrive in today’s world, students need to critically interpret, manage and create meaning through ever-evolving online channels. This means expanding literacy teaching to move beyond traditional reading and writing skills to cover digital literacy.

Digital literacy enables students to access high-quality information and equip children with strategies to make smarter and safer choices as they expand their digital world.  The work in this space is needed to address issues like cyberbullying, discrimination and misinformation as technology becomes more central to children’s lives.

The strategy follows the advice of Chief Education Science Advisor Professor Stuart McNaughton and looks beyond the acquisition of foundational skills, to the literacies needed for participating in a digital society, and for the requirements of the senior secondary school curriculum subjects.

The new ‘common practice model’

The proposed ‘Common Practice model’ provides a real opportunity to scale up New Zealand research. It values combining research and practical knowledge to deliver effective teaching and create sustainable outcomes for students.

The model clearly addresses the issue of the variability of teaching practice, arising from competing advice across schools. The Common Practice Model needs to provide a clear vision for teachers, school leaders and teacher education about the approaches and content that work best for learners in Aotearoa New Zealand. The model offers a way to focus on high quality teaching for every learner.

This backs up the collaborative approach that Tui Tuia | Learning Circle has in partnering with the University of Auckland’s education researchers to deliver research-based literacy strategies that speak to the diverse needs of the child. It also acknowledges New Zealand’s rich history of educational partnerships between researchers and practitioners.

Building a culturally sustaining approach to learning

The Common Practice Model acknowledges that being literate in Aotearoa New Zealand today involves incorporating diverse cultural perspectives. We expect our children to see themselves in their reading materials, and the learning approaches include the languages and values of te ao Māori and the Pacific.

Central to this will be building teachers’ knowledge of children’s languages, cultures and identities, and how children use these as resources for their own learning. This requires educators to find out about the range of diverse literacies that are a part of children’s out of school lives, in their homes and communities.

To be successful, the ambitious plan needs to be well resourced.

It’s no secret that there is a lack of access to literacy development support. The challenge now is to look at what the data is showing us and design appropriate solutions in an increasingly complex and diverse society.

What is needed is a shift to a collaborative model that is designed specifically for our current context.

Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tatou māhi
Let the uniqueness of our children guide our work
Dr Rebecca Jesson
Dr Rebecca Jesson is an Associate Professor in literacy education at The University of Auckland - Faculty of Education and Social Work. She is also a Reading Recovery Trainer and is the Academic & Research Director for National Reading Recovery Centre, Aotearoa.
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A response to the Government’s new Literacy Strategy

I applaud the Government for listening to the voices of educators and taking on education’s ‘gritty issues’ in a planned approach.

The Literacy & Communication Strategy is an invitation to educators to collectively change how we think about literacy and how we work together. It extends beyond well trodden debates about reading and writing, and takes a wider view of literacy to include oral languages and listening skills as well as digital literacy which is critical to our world today.  

The commitment to digital literacy

To thrive in today’s world, students need to critically interpret, manage and create meaning through ever-evolving online channels. This means expanding literacy teaching to move beyond traditional reading and writing skills to cover digital literacy.

Digital literacy enables students to access high-quality information and equip children with strategies to make smarter and safer choices as they expand their digital world.  The work in this space is needed to address issues like cyberbullying, discrimination and misinformation as technology becomes more central to children’s lives.

The strategy follows the advice of Chief Education Science Advisor Professor Stuart McNaughton and looks beyond the acquisition of foundational skills, to the literacies needed for participating in a digital society, and for the requirements of the senior secondary school curriculum subjects.

The new ‘common practice model’

The proposed ‘Common Practice model’ provides a real opportunity to scale up New Zealand research. It values combining research and practical knowledge to deliver effective teaching and create sustainable outcomes for students.

The model clearly addresses the issue of the variability of teaching practice, arising from competing advice across schools. The Common Practice Model needs to provide a clear vision for teachers, school leaders and teacher education about the approaches and content that work best for learners in Aotearoa New Zealand. The model offers a way to focus on high quality teaching for every learner.

This backs up the collaborative approach that Tui Tuia | Learning Circle has in partnering with the University of Auckland’s education researchers to deliver research-based literacy strategies that speak to the diverse needs of the child. It also acknowledges New Zealand’s rich history of educational partnerships between researchers and practitioners.

Building a culturally sustaining approach to learning

The Common Practice Model acknowledges that being literate in Aotearoa New Zealand today involves incorporating diverse cultural perspectives. We expect our children to see themselves in their reading materials, and the learning approaches include the languages and values of te ao Māori and the Pacific.

Central to this will be building teachers’ knowledge of children’s languages, cultures and identities, and how children use these as resources for their own learning. This requires educators to find out about the range of diverse literacies that are a part of children’s out of school lives, in their homes and communities.

To be successful, the ambitious plan needs to be well resourced.

It’s no secret that there is a lack of access to literacy development support. The challenge now is to look at what the data is showing us and design appropriate solutions in an increasingly complex and diverse society.

What is needed is a shift to a collaborative model that is designed specifically for our current context.

Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tatou māhi
Let the uniqueness of our children guide our work