Reading the pictures: children’s responses to Rose Blanche
Underpinning the new Primary National Strategy (PNS) (DfES 2003a) initiative is an emphasis on the need to develop and promote creativity in all areas of the curriculum. Such ‘official blessing’ encourages us as teachers and educators to be creative in our interpretation of such documents as The National Literacy Strategy (NLS) Framework for Teaching (DfEE 1998). The speaking, listening, learning element of the PNS publication highlights the need for teachers to provide varied and imaginative classroom scenarios in which pupils can be ‘taught’ to become proficient and confident speakers and listeners. The poster pack advice buzzes with such words as ‘active’, ‘responsive’, ‘encourage’, ‘extend’, ‘participate’, ‘reflect’, ‘evaluate’, ‘discuss’, ‘interact’, ‘converse’. Discussion is encouraged at all levels – partnered, paired, grouped, whole class, collective, child-led, teacher-led. This emphasis on oral activity links with what we have always known about teaching and learning – that we learn best by DOING: ‘I do so I understand’. We learn to be readers by reading, to be writers by writing and to be speakers and listeners by being engaged in a purposeful way with those activities. Sharing responses to literature is one of the most meaningful ways in which good listening and good talking can be achieved.