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Reflections on the Oxford Reading Spree - Part Two

Mary Myatt whose twitter bio says: “I talk with pupils, teachers and leaders about learning, leadership and the curriculum. Latest book ‘Hopeful Schools'” Mary also has a website
Mary’s first slide was a picture with the title ‘The Gobbetisation of the curriculum.’ Well, I was flummoxed and thought I am not going to have a clue what she is talking about.
However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Mary made perfect sense! I marvelled at her passion as I had at Simon before her. Mary said that when she spoke to teachers about reading out loud in class they said: “Reading out loud doesn’t feel like work.” This meant they were less inclined to do it.

Mary said that we should use “Demanding text beyond their pay grade.” She also said that we need to “Stop watering stuff down for kids.” Similarly, Simon Smith, who I wrote about in part one, said that we should “Never underestimate children.” I agree wholeheartedly with both Simon and Mary. In fact, I felt compelled to justify an activity that I have included in the Planning Ideas Pack for The Ugly Duckling. Note the prompt in brackets! “Make a chart of oviparous and viviparous animals. (Please don’t think this is too advanced for your children. Can they say Tyrannosaurus Rex?)”

An activity suggested by Mary was a kind of etymology (no I didn’t know what this one meant either!) Mary quickly cleared this up by saying that we should ask children to “Pick a word they want to know more about.” This takes me back again to something I wrote about in my other blogs. Is story time something we squeeze in at the end of the day and often skip if there is no time?

I know that at work I mainly read aloud to the little one at bedtime. We aimed to have four stories each night but often I had to reduce the number due to time constraints. The timing also means that I often read the stories very quickly and we didn’t have time to discuss the story. We definitely didn’t have time to decode the illustrations either. I tried to change this in the holidays when I would plan to discuss her favourite books and perhaps introduce some new ones to her. When we did read together she often stopped me and asked what a word meant. Daytime reading in the holidays allowed us to explore more of these words and do our own kind of etymology!
Mary’s book recommendation was ‘Proust and the Squid” by Maryanne Wolf. I would say it looks like a very interesting read but it’s not for the fainthearted!

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