English teaching and the problem with knowledge

A must read for all English teachers.

Reflecting English

Tharby-knowledge-v-skillsWEBImage: @jasonramasami

At #tlt14 last weekend I had the pleasure of chatting with blogger and all-round nice chap Phil Stock about the role of knowledge in English teaching. Phil argues that student-generated interpretations of literary texts almost always lack depth and sophistication. Instead, textual interpretations are often better taught as discreet knowledge, rather than relying solely on the  flimsy attempts of our students. In other words, we owe it to them to teach interpretations of texts as explicit knowledge rather than hoping that we can teach them the skill of interpretation. Because an interpretation is formed in the context of what is already known, only children whose upbringings have been steeped in a wealth of cultural references have any chance of generating a genuinely sophisticated one.

Teaching for knowledge is not a simple concept in English. This is because we have to work out which and whose knowledge to…

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About gwenelope

English and Media Studies teacher in the wilds of Coventry, about to start my tenth year, which in itself is frankly terrifying. In the small pockets of free time I have have been known to do things like Tough Guy, circuit classes and swim often, very often. It is what keeps sanity near and insanity at bay.
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