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The Foundation Phase - learning through play

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Is The Foundation Phase - learning through play the way forward, or is it a backward step?

The Welsh assembly has introduced The Foundation Phase for Welsh kids in the infants classes.  I am a teacher and I hate it!  It was first introduced about three years ago and the philosophy behind it was that boys are turned off by school at an early age.  They learn practically through play (not against that bit) and that sitting down for long periods is unnatural (granted).

very little emphasis put on sitting down, learning to write, spell, read and basic numeracy.

The Welsh assembly promised a ratio of 1:8 adults to children but then couldn't afford it.  So now, in most classes there is one teacher and one helper and a class on average about twenty four kids, so a ratio of 1:12.  The kids then play all day, with very little emphasis put on sitting down, learning to write, spell, read, and basic numeracy.

Infant school - painting Kids have a choice of activities, great I hear you say, but my grandson chooses not to go to the reading table, or do any writing.  Well what a surprise!  Now, three years later, my granddaughter is behind in her writing and reading, half her class are receiving remedial support.  And in my other grandson's school, he cannot hold a pencil, or sit still enough to listen to a story.

Chaos reigns supreme in schools so I have decided to step in and teach them myself in the evenings.  I am a special needs teacher in a secondary school, but I now intend to work with each of them for half an hour, twice a week.  I shouldn't have to do this though!!!  This generation of infants are nothing but guinea pigs, sacrificed on the alter of progressive thinking.  In ten years time they will be competing for jobs and university places with English kids, they will be behind and won't stand a chance.  Then the Welsh Assembly will say something like "Standards are dropping and it's the fault of the teachers, let us go back to basics."

It's madness, sheer madness...

By: Bagpuss


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aby

aby

is it good for learners to use calculator in foundation phase?
aby
11th Apr 11 18:33

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-6
worried mother

worried mother

I would agree, there is not enough structure, support or money in this system to securely develop a positive learning experience. If you ask the children, they are not enjoying school any better for all the play, in my own experience my son has become more aware of what he cant do than what he can,, he has expectations of himself already at six that he knows he is not meeting up to and that is not his fault he wants to learn and the building blocks for this have been completely withdrawn. School has adopted a parental role preferring to assume the right to educate on Personal and Social Well-Being and Cultural Diversity, Physical Development,Knowledge and Understanding of the World with very little emphasis on the skills that are the core need of every child to read and write and maths.
The only education you see goes on behind closed doors amoungst the 'old' school teachers who can see what a complete mockery the system is making of these kids, the children in these classes have a sense of value from their education, a pride in their knowledge, learning and themselves that you fail to see otherwise.
The majority of parents in our school are paying for real teaching when school finishes, and nearly all parents I have met and talked to have adopted a more educational role, having lost faith in the system.
worried mother
27th Mar 11 13:09

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-17
C

C

What a load of nonsense! Children learn through play, fact! A good teacher (hate that word) a good facilitator will make interesting play activities that will be educational for all the children. Please take a look at other EU countries where the children do not even start writing until they are 7, they then go on to excel our children, fact! Anyone who thinks that play is not educational has seriously got the Foundation Phase all wrong. A mix of structured and free play activities is the best way for children to learn, Believe me your grandchildren are not wasting their time in school, the Foundation Phase is a solid base for future learning! It makes learning fun, and everyone knows that an early love of school will make future learning easier. Please do not put too much pressure on children to be reading and writing by a certain age, they are all different. The words remedial should not be used, ever. It is a fact that the muscles needed to correctly hold a pencil develop much later in boys than girls. The Fooundation Phase is not a new concept, the McMillan sisters who changed the face of education knew the benefits of play, as did Froebel, Piaget, Issacs and many many more. Play is not a waste of time. Children learn from hands on experiences, lets remember that we should be thinking of the holsitic development of the child. Wales is being admired by the rest of the world for their stance on Early Years.
C
22nd Mar 11 21:30

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JuneyHod

JuneyHod

Thinking of the Maths we all need (I'm English - so it's Maths to me) my younger daughter (not the accountant) was an educational product of a time of flux in English education - she's 38. The teachers were on strike a lot of the time. She had no extra curricula activities as schools were closed and I couldn't afford to pay for private lessons (I was a single mum of two after a divorce with no financial back-up - not blaming the system for that) and the children were thrown out of schools at lunch time because teachers were on go-slow and wouldn't do lunch time duties. I was working long hours to keep the family together. My daughter was a teenager and her studies suffered. She ended up working for MacDonalds which gave her a good hard work ethic but little else. To cut a long story, she's been married 18 years and has raised, with her husband, two grandchildren I am extremely proud of. I'm proud of her too as she has worked hard for years as a teaching assistant, gaining valuable in-house training and has special responsibility for a Downs Syndrome child who needs her constant attention. However, she cannot progress, which is a source of frustration to her, as she never got her GCSE in Maths and this qualification, despite her years of experience, precludes her from further studies without first doing an extra twelve months foundation course. She's not confident now that she will have the stamina for this but is willing to give it a try. She's only one of the generation that suffered from a dreadfully patchy education so how many others of the same age who are now parents of today's teenagers, are still suffering for the educational neglect of that time? As a TA she earns a third of the teachers' salary although her job is no less arduous or important. She is now thinking of leaving education and training as a nurse, which will take her 4 years instead of three because of her lack of Mathematics.
JuneyHod
21st Jan 11 08:21

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-12
Charmbrights

Charmbrights

If those who can,do and those who can't, teach, then those who can't do OR teach become educational experts and invent such nonsense as learning by play.
Charmbrights
20th Jan 11 18:00

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Sam, the Tiger

Sam, the Tiger

Juney, I hope the trend towards mediocrity or worse is reversed right away for the good of the family, and the nation of which the family is an essential component. Who says this so often, that if education is expensive, try ignorance.

I've often said that the style is the man, not mine per se. It reflects the nature and the quality of the writer (of the CV). There's also such a thing as self-improvement. We can all do better if we have the will and the ambition. Here's a brief (shortened by me by 98%) appeared in the obit.

The man worked for Hartford Insurance in the States, was told not to wear a hat or smoke a pipe, to not dress like a hobo, and to not cycle to work if he hoped for a future in the company. He quit, applied to attend university, and was rejected by most because he had no basic credentials, even math. Never studied math, but said he'd read some highfalutin texts on mathematics.

Columbia took a chance on him, placed him and he completed his PH.D in mathematics and taught in some State universities and ended becoming a prof at our U of Toronto in '60 something until his recent death. He had a natural aptitude for the subject and pursued his dreams.

Strange you should mention math, as I had been thinking about a commentary for the WG about it. Topic: Nothing wrong with using calculators or some dedicated PCs in school. These are gizmos of no use absolutely if you don't have any foundation in math and application skill. Someone should do it and let us rebutt or support him.
Sam, the Tiger
20th Jan 11 12:37

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JuneyHod

JuneyHod

You are right, Sam The Tiger, that the first impression received by a potential employer is crucial. My younger daughter who is a management accountant for a large company, interviews for all the staff in the accounts office. Her first reaction to reading a C.V. and accompanying letter, if the grammar and spelling is appalling, is almost always to bin the application. Then when interviewing, she gives a fairly simple maths test, which determines who goes through to the next round. She sometimes struggles, even with postgraduate applicants, to find suitable employees. Quite a shocking situation.
JuneyHod
20th Jan 11 10:23

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Sam, the Tiger

Sam, the Tiger

Nope, you are not alone on this. English is irreplaceable in today global interconnections and has been so for as long as we can remember. Even in Quebec where language laws are stringent and where Francophones speak little or no English, the trend is reversing.

The moment kids reach university age and are allowed options, many choose to study at English universities. It's unthinkable that Candians living in Quebec do not speak English. Unreal. You cannot survive in today's knowledge-based economy if you aren't sufficiently equipped to be a contributing participant.

I've read so much about the 3Rs as being a pedagogical imperative, the safest way to go. We need strong foundational skills to be able to handle reading and writing, even math-ing. Thereafter comes thinking and application skills running concurrently to enable us to express our thoughts lucidly.

What good is it to have wonderfully imaginative ideas floating around in the pretty head and not be able to articulate them, except verbally, in good or bad English?

I also read that somewhere in UK (not to vitriolize it), some companies have received hundreds of job applications from U-graduates, and more than 50% were rejected outright because of serious "first impression" deficiencies - among them: could not spell or write as should be written, error-free. Have you heard of it?

What can we do, and how do we address this growing problem? I know what I'd do in private.
Sam, the Tiger
19th Jan 11 13:45

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JuneyHod

JuneyHod

Too much experimentation is done in schools, only to find out a generation later that tried and tested methods are best, such as emphasis on the three 'r's. I had to teach my daughters grammar (they are both in their late thirties) and they still come for advice on grammar and spelling. Until six years ago I lived in Gwynedd, North Wales and children there speak no English in schools (or at home for most of them) and only learn English when they are seven, as a second language. This is fine if they remain in Wales and do GCSEs in Welsh and then degrees at Bangor, but isn't much good in the wider world. I'm all for the Welsh speaking their native tongue but globally it puts Welsh young people at a disadvantage. I expect alot of antagonism for saying this!
JuneyHod
19th Jan 11 09:53

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-18
Sam, the Tiger

Sam, the Tiger

Excellent, Miz; and one wonders why the bureaucracy does what it does but for the newfangled discoveries that ought to be tried and re-tried. There's this once time not long ago when the provincial conservative government's Education Minister held a meeting in-camera and then, forgetting to shut down the mike, blurted out that they'd have to find a way to suggest the system was broken and had to be "fixed."

They fixed it alright by messing around with education to prompt many teachers within memory to resign in protest. The Minister in a by-election lost his portfolio and was replaced by another conservative yo-yo whom the electorate turfed out, the government and all eventually. They instituted the dumbest system of education that was doomed to fail. Thank God they left, leaving it in disarray to be repaired.

Bagpuss, heed Miz's advice that you can only do so much. Don't sweat over it and go sleepless night afer night to suffer depression, nervous breakdown and insanity in the end. It won't your fault the system collapses. Your guilt trip will not help (to) restore the health of the system that you knew.

Do what you can, and this I repeat; just do what you can if you intend to stay on. Sometimes you wonder why things that worked so well for hundreds of years are replaced, like planned obsolescence for the sake of change for some selfish reasons.
Sam, the Tiger
19th Jan 11 00:11

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-2
miserablemoaninggit

miserablemoaninggit

Bagpuss, your health is more of a priority than even the learning of your pupils. 'Stepping in' as you put it in the evenings will probably be too much, and it will only eventually get taken for granted. You can only do so much and if your health begins to suffer from doing too much, then nobody benefits, least of all you. I know a few teachers, from junior to high school to sixth form. They all have, it seems, many things to complain about and most of the complaints arising from the last few years with - as Sam, the Tiger seems to indicate is a problem in all countries - the meddling of politicians, and the constant changes being introduced, abandoned and then replaced with something else. The high school teacher and sixth form teacher complain about the 'teaching to the test' and 'getting the students to jump through hoops' philosophy, whilst the junior school teacher complains about the frequency of testing and the unimaginative national curriculum. However, they all admit that they can only do so much, they try to 'keep it all at arms length' as much as possible, although all of them express a desire to 'get out' and do something else. Try to keep it all in perspective.
miserablemoaninggit
18th Jan 11 21:07

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-3
Sam, the Tiger

Sam, the Tiger

Oh Lord, not another A.S. Neill's Summerhill School revisited and resurrected. It should have been immediately interred in 1921 when it was first founded, with its open-concept (no walls) pedagogical paradigm and free for all, unfettered. Each teacher did his or her own thing.

We had in 1962 in Ontario The Robarts Plan and Hall-Dennis's report to accomplish the idea of teaching living and learning concurrently, learning experientially as they live . I think the intent had merits, but the methodologies to carry through the concept were dismal, badly conceived and not entirely productive.

Yes, each time prgamatist-democratist John Dewey came up with his tripe - school a social institution, kids learning by osmosis, no stymieng of their natural creativity, on and on, you wondered why Johnny could not read or write. Get this book, "Why Johnny Cannot Read and Write" - forget the exact title. You may find some parallels.

Kids will learn, in their own time, in their own space, when they are ready, so it goes - more of the straw man's issues for God knows why.

In its pure form, I doubt The Robarts Plan succeeded until it was revamped. Too many complaints came from industries, universities and colleges about students who were almost functionally illiterate so much so that remedial programs were set up to bring them back up to snuff. We're fine now. Thank the Lord common sense prevailed at some point.

Bagpuss, you are in the thick of it all. Live with it and do your darnedest or leave the system. My heart and prayer go out to you. Lunch now. No time to look this over.
Sam, the Tiger
18th Jan 11 18:25

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-2
DSG

DSG

And now our generation of kids has just become more mentally unstable than they need to be.
How the hell are kids supposed to learn through play?
DSG
18th Jan 11 17:49

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