Friday, June 19, 2009

Topic: Speaking, Listening and Democracy

10-second review: As suggested by Dewey, overcoming disagreements and conflict and working together to build consensus must be modeled in the classroom consistently through the grades for students to use those skills when they are part of adult society.

Title: “Community Dialogue: The Bridge Between Individual and Society.” Gordon Wells. Language Arts (March 2009), 290-301. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: “But sooner rather than later, today’s students will be acting out that stance in practice. In countless situations, day by day, they will be called upon to maintain the status quo by repeating what they have learned from their elders or they will attempt to transform it through their contributions to interpersonal interaction with others. In either case, how they speak and act will be of potential long-term significance, not only for themselves but also for their communities.”

Comment: OK, we’ve heard it all before. The classroom should be a practicing democracy. I don’t know how far “practicing democracy” in the classroom can go. I’ve never really tried.

But we’re actually talking about the skills of speaking, listening and cooperating, which are important and often neglected language arts skills. In my book, Teaching English, How to…. (Xlibris, 2004), I discuss how to help students learn to work cooperatively in small groups. In the next several blogs I am going to reproduce that part of my chapter on speaking, dealing with understanding roles in successful group work. The end result may be better democracy, but it begins with the skills of speaking, listening and cooperating. Rays.

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