Monday, November 1, 2010

Topic: Objectives and Activities

Question: What is more important to children? Objectives or activities?

Answer: “In sum, literacy is not simply a set of skills; it is a social activity. No matter what the instructional objectives of specific tasks, children do not focus on objectives, but on tasks as activities—as whole experiences—that include materials to be used, a series of actions to be followed, and a way of talking during and about the activity. There is reason, then, to critically examine and evaluate the kinds of literacy activities available to children.” P. 262.

Comment: Who can argue? My experience certainly doesn’t. Still, why objectives for activities don’t seem to matter to children is probably because teachers spend little  or no time on explaining objectives to the children—or, to themselves. The teachers, too, are more concerned with the details of activities than with the reasons for the activities. That’s the way it was with me.

Why should objectives matter? Because they provide reasons for the activities—and if the reasons are clear, the activities will have meaning and purpose. If we spent more time on our objectives, we might waste less time on activities that have little or no meaning for children. Rays.

Title: “Learning to Write/Learning to Do School: Emergent Writers’ Interpretations of School Literacy Tasks.” A H Dyson. Research in the Teaching of English (October 1984), 233-264.

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