HAPPY CHRISTMAS - my daughter swinging around my chair insisted I wrote this for some reason. Elise thanks, I have great respect for those who really understand the phonics mechanics such as debbie and various others on here. And they are perhaps the most pragmatic because they are working with the educaion system as it is now. However I just wonder if 'raising the levels of lieracy' might help a lot of young people who are met by teachers in secondary school and whom I, as an early years and now primary teacher would not meet. BUT I just wonder if everyone was suddenly reading at level four at the end of primary would that solve all ills? or a majority of them? Or are there problems more deep seated? Perhaps secondary colleagues will have greater insight... or will they as they are really only passengers on the same bus, except perhaps with a bus pass which lets them a little more into the whys and wherefores of where they are going but can change nothing of the destination? Are there no children for whom the destination, and the stops on route hold no interest because they see through the cynical use of carrot and stick, target and test, children who have been failed not because they 'couldn't' but because our education system teaches them from a very early age to disengage, to line up, to march in time, to sing the same tune, to colour in when told and not draw outside the lines, to receive a smiley face and to not ask the awkward question, or not even to not understand and, cardinal sins of cardinal sins, to even be not interested in the maths, the fair testing of materials, the conjunction defintitions, the curriculum hoops to which they are put to jump. I think there is a greater and greater emphasis on instruction over education, to give children skills which do not really connect in with the concerns they have in real life, the real issues which they confront in their own families everyday. Rather than clarifying that they are connected with others, that they are important and can contribute, that out of any shared experience there are multiple refractions of possible understandings, not just one right way. Each refraction through the lens of an individual life needs to be given the perspective of time and opportunity to see where it fits in the greater hue which is the class group. I just wonder if we don't spend a great time teaching decoding skills, or maths or whatever and we don't teach children about themselves, we create a split which can be healed in relatively strong families but in weaker, more fragmented home lives mean that some children will never find sense and meaning. Perhaps as much research needs to go into helping teachers become big enough and deep enough to create classroom environments where no child is ever left behind, where there is no top. middle and bottom group, where all are in it together, to help each other, to learn from the experiences of others, to feel unique, accepted and even perhaps as far as feel love for their classmates and teacher. All of which naturally therefore need the time, space and linguistic tools to be expressed. The great tail of underachievment wags the dog. For we focus only on this narrow measure of what constitutes the acceptable. Yet no time is given to discuss this. Teachers who question the onward march, the target setting, moderating, table building culture find themselves judged by their ability to teach to a formula lesson as inspected by a set of waddling ducks who fly in in perfect formation , quack a great deal, try to tease out a few worms, then usually fly, off dropping liquid waste as they go, once more in perfect formation. It is a system which breeds cynicism and insincerity in its teachers, is it any wonder that a great deal of our young people are not so stupid that they don't see this? If this is so.... and maybe it isn't at all, but if it were does this reflect a wider malaise or at least characteristic of current british- or english- society. Do we see any correlation between saturday night fights, alcohol and lives which are lived collectively only in as much as we stand in the queue with others at sainsbury's and watch the same television progams in the individuality of our own homes. If phonics at four were the prescription, the vacine, the immunisaton against all this - and it looks as though a countrywide programme is about to be intitiated on the back of local trials, then maybe I will prove to be an abberation. It just doesn't seem that way to me. Somewhere perhaps we need to find a different value for living other than the vestiges of the industrial production model which guides our schools and our day to day interactions and which maybe has stripped our society of collective ritual and pushed us all into the race for individual success, profit and material advancement. Which whilst we no doubt benefit there is also an intangible sense of loss of something we can't quite define and perhaps is felt more highly by the still sensitive younger generation, some of whom then wonder is it all worth it. That race no doubt keeps us all in line and we fix our gaze on the varying finishing posts but as people on here point out there are a lot of losers. Teachers who try to hold up the forward rush, who try to take their eye of the finishing posts and listen to those children who too are not interested in the forward scramble, are usually villified. Others recognising the demise of so many losers devise ever earlier intervnsion programs which seek to keep all from the, at some time inevitable, distractions. An inevitabilty which is not even certain, some of us don't ever doubt, some of us begin late in life to doubt, others just don't even get started before the doubts kick in, and that's it we are rumbled, we're left behind- so what is the point. Do teachers know the answer to that one? MERRY XMAS. says my daughter. Why not, I say. Why ever not. ps does ANYONE know how I can maintain paragraphs? I am using the OPERA browser and all my paragraphs just disappear when I post.