Reflecting on Teaching Methods
Although William James (1960, p. 46) was not referring to the teaching of literacy, his comments apply perfectly to views held on that subject. For many people how it should be taught is the most important question concerning literacy in education. While it is certainly an important issue we have seen in earlier chapters that there are others, too, such as defining goals in teaching literacy, deciding what should be in the literacy curriculum, and having some understanding of how individuals can develop literacy. In judging which teaching methods are most valuable we have to keep an eye on all these inter-connected issues. It is because proponents of particular teaching methods not only express views about method but also inevitably make assumptions about the purpose of literacy, the goals of education and the nature of human development that this topic has the potential to arouse so much controversy. To avoid ‘over-simplification’ and ‘dogmatism’ it is necessary to acknowledge complexity and uncertainty and to recognise truths in different views as well as errors.