Whole Language is a Philosophy that Believes:
1. Language and meaning making are inseparable. Meaning interprets reality.
2. Language is language-oral or written-or other signals.
3. Language is social-children learn in the context of its use.
4. Children are natural learners, and will spontaneously make good learning decisions.
5. Children learn to read - write and tell best when the conditions are informal, natural, a "dinner table" approach.
6. Children need to be immersed in authentic text; novels, poems, story-telling, etc.; not basals.
7. Teachers demonstrate reading/writing/story-telling.
8. Teachers believe kids will succeed.
9. Kids need to own their learning and literacy choices.
10. Time to read, write and tell stories is essential.
11. Kids learn by trial and error, invention, discovery, intuition.
12. Curricular decisions are shared. The curriculum is integrated, with an authentic purpose of inquiry.
13. Collaboration is key.
14. Whole language privileges trade books over
Both Old and New literacy focus on language, the
development of individual meaning, as means for social construction or
reconstruction. In this way...both are idealist.
There is a growing tendency to see whole language as just another way to teach literacy.
This denies the real potential of whole language which lies in:
2. Emphasis on collaboration-collectively-but collaboration to what end?
3. Is attacks on race/class tracking.
4. Its ability to open up class time.
5. Its attacks on racist/class-based tests and basals.
6. The shift in the center of meaning. There is more than one interpretation-but infinite interpretations?
7. Encourages real language with real consequences-but is attacked for lacking rigor and relying on spontaneity.
8. Gives some decision power to kids, parents. An inquiry process.
9. Sees knowledge as collective rather than individual property.
10. Linkage of theory/practice-word and the world. Learning demystified.
11. Sees knowledge as integrated - interrelated. Whole language is Issue Rich, analyses issues, locates kids in their material world.
12. Whole language RE-skills school workers.
13. But Whole Language has not carried its power as a critical theory far enough.
1. Ideas are socially constructed . All knowledge is political, not neutral.
b. Schools are vast markets, warehouses for kids, and recreate unequal social conditions.
c. Schools are also centers of hope for democratic equality--and resistance.
b. Yet there is always room to struggle for what is true, to gain and test knowledge.
4. Partisan pedagogy seeks to:
b. Make people agents able to gain and test knowledge on their own.
c. Demonstrate the liberating nature of collective inquiry and action .
d. Raise questions for reflection, and conditions for practice, so ideas and practices can change. Education becomes experimental and exploratory.
e. Forge unity of learners (leaders-hip based on a sense of respect and equality).
f. Encourage people to examine the contradictions of their own surroundings. What are our problems? Are our problems similar? Where do they come from? What can we do?
g. Authority is rooted in respect and extended knowledge, not sheer domination. Leadership is earned-and earned again.
h. Dialogue to gain and test the understanding of interrelated, interdependent, yet contradictory ideas. Unity through struggle.
i. Demonstrate that knowledge is partial - a momentary grasp of ever-changing reality.
6. From the people to the people. Knowledge is drawn from, and taken beyond, the classroom.
7. At its base values:
b. Political democracy
c. Importance of leadership
1. Has, in some instances (Grenada, China, Cuba, Tanzania) served the interests of new elites rather than the interest of social and economic equality. Has failed the test of material equality...and a critically literature population.
2. Continues to rely on spontaneous decisions and understandings of students/participants whose oppression may not allow them to see a wider horizon.
3. Has regularly reconstructed basals which continued to deskill teachers and disarm students. Basals are inherently alienating.
b. Examples, Grenada, Cuba, China
b. Pluralism in practice
c. Continued material inequality
6. Fails to recognize the relationship of the state (government), capital (profits), and schools. See each disconnected from the other.
7. Focus on discourse within schools rather than
oppositional social struggle.