Monday, January 31, 2011

Topic: Research in English

Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.

Question: Why do many teachers feel negative about educational research?

Answer: “For some teachers—in public school and in college—the term research is almost a dirty word. It conjures up images of university types, secure in their ivory towers, exploiting both graduate students and their school’s computer center to provide equivocal answers to questions nobody was very interested in anyway. Moreover, the term reminds us of tedious prose filled with expletive/passive constructions, references to people as subjects (orS’s), and unfamiliar jargon-‘chi square tests,’ ‘Q-sorts,’ and, my favorite, ‘two-tailed values.’ Little wonder that both experienced and prospective teachers express some dissatisfaction (bordering on open hostility) at the suggestion that they read or, worse, actually conduct some research.”

“With more justification than I would like to admit, these teachers claim that a lot of research has no apparent bearing on the complex problems they deal with day in and day out. It fails to answer such reasonable questions as: Now that I know whatever it is that you learned from your research, what good will it do me? How is it going to help me be a better teacher? How is it going to help my students? Difficult as these questions are, I should like to suggest that they can be answered—and answered well enough to encourage teachers at all levels to engage in research.”

Comment: The author goes on to encourage teachers to be their own researchers. He specifically deals with how to frame a problem.

One of my blogs features research findings that interest me. I try to tell how I would use those research findings in my classroom. This blog is located at  RayS.

Title: “The Classroom Teachers as Researcher.” Lee Odell. English Journal (January1976), 106-111.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Topic: Nonsexist Use of Language

Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.

Question: What is the importance of “nonsexist” use of language?

Answer: The following policy of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) on the nonsexist use of language was published in the January 1976 English Journal.

Sexist usages and assumptions distort our language and perpetuate the arbitrary assignment of roles on the basis of sex. Our ability to view the world accurately and to communicate our perceptions depends in part on the language we use. The use of sexist language warps our perceptions, whether we are the writer or speaker, reader or listener.

English teachers have a special opportunity and obligation to demonstrate, through their teaching and writing, that language can become nonsexist without sacrificing either precision or grace. The National Council of Teachers of English should encourage the use of nonsexist language, particularly through its publications and periodicals.

Comment: Begin in the plural and stay in the plural and you will avoid such ugly usages as he or she, him or her, s/he, etc. RayS.

“Board of Directors Actions in San Diego.” English Journal (January 1976), p. 10.