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March 16, 2004
Yesterday I sent in the form ...

Yesterday morning I sent the form in saying I would like to contribute to this enterprise. One of the reasons I did this was that I was about to meet up again with a dear friend who knew that I had been meaning to do this for some time now, and who I knew would at some point ask me if I had done this. I wanted to be able to say yes, and today I was able to do that.

This friend also asked me: what is the absolute most important thing to teach a child? I said: reading. Not writing, nor arithmetic. If you can read, you have a chance of learning how to write, or how to arithmetise (?). Learning how to write is meaningless if you can't read, and learning how to add and subtract (probably a better way to turn arithmetic into a verb) won't help you learn to read. So: reading. Reading opens the door of civilisation. Not being able to read keeps that door firmly shut. A little bit of help to a child at an early age can make a lot of difference, I think, which is what I put on the form as my reason for volunteering.

Me becoming a reading helper is bound to make this a more interesting blog to read, once this process gets under way (assuming that these people can find a use for me). I will keep you informed of progress, as and when it materialises. Expect no names of people, places or institutions (other than the one I have just linked to). But I for one, expect to learn a great deal about the state of education by becoming the lowest form of teaching life now in existence, and about whether I may ever be able to make myself into some kind of seriously effective educator.

As a first step, I much prefer this to picking some sort of training course, with a pin.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:27 PM
Category: Brian's brilliant teaching careerLiteracy

Just an aside:

In the middle ages, reading and writing were considered as two quite separate skills. People learned reading first, and many never needed to learn to write (being a scribe was a distinct and specialised technical skill).

But in the cathedral and monastery schools, both of these came some way after the pupils had learned the whole Latin psalter off by heart (first stage in learning Latin grammar) and had learned enough chant to participate in the liturgy.

Comment by: emma on March 17, 2004 02:35 PM
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