State of Literacy Webinar with Jilly Tyler and Michele Whiting

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EPIT brought together 2 of Aotearoa's leading educationalists to have a conversation about the State of Literacy

There has been plenty of discussion in the media over the last year on the rates of literacy in Aotearoa. A spotlight has been cast on the dropping literacy performance of our students over the past few years, particularly on the international stage. There have also been plenty of talk about specific approaches that have been touted as the solution. EPIT brough together two great minds, Jilly Tyler, Chief Executive of Talking Matters, and Michele Whiting, Chairperson of Te Mana O Kupe.

"There is no silver bullet when it comes to literacy approaches." - Michele W.

The more we discussed about literacy, the clearer it became that there is no single approach that will solve all our problems. Michele recalls coming across a book early in her teaching career, written in 1961, which gave strong advice NOT to teach isolated words using of sounds, but rather to use context to make the first guess. So, over 60 years later, why are we still not putting this into practice for the betterment of our learners?

"Literacy isn't something we teach for an hour a day. It's a fundamental skill that underpins all learning." - Jilly T.

The current education system emphasises performance-based measures, and this pidgeon-holes teachers into using approaches that help meet those performance measures. However, by shifting the focus to outcomes - thriving learners who are inquisitive, and have a love for learning, this narrative can change. Literacy isn't a subject that is taught for an hour a day. It is a fundamental skill that underpins all learning. The ability to communicate, across many languages, should be celebrated. Teachers need to be supported to be brave and creative, and to build innovative systems foused on impact, not outcomes.

So what should we be focusing on?

Click here to watch the full webinar and check out the rich conversation between these two wonderful literacy champions.

Nischal Chakravarthy
07 September 2023
min read

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