Saturday, January 15, 2011

Core Instructional Premises of Adult Literacy Education

Core Instructional Premises of Adult Literacy Education

• Learning to read and using print based texts to gain relevant knowledge and information in one's life outside the program are interrelated. Basic skill development in reading and content-based mastery knowledge, mutually reinforce each other in our program. Drawing on the language of K-12 education, the object is to teach reading across the curriculum in order to help students apply what they are learning to as many contexts of their lives as possible. Because basic reading skill development is the common denominator, that is featured prominently in the binders at every level.

• Meeting the needs of a broad range of students and tutors requires a balanced approach between structure and flexibility in instructional materials and in approaches to teaching and learning. Within certain guidelines, each group of students and their tutor needs to work out that balance for themselves. A loose curriculum construction with adequate resources built in is preferable to a tight curriculum construction in order to accommodate the range of our student and tutor needs and interests.

• The core content areas-employment, family, health, money management, civics, human interest are the primary topic areas highlighted in adult literacy resource collections and curriculum guides. They are also the topics that students and instructors have gravitated toward over for many years in many divergent programmatic contexts. It is one of my underlying assumptions to adult literacy curriculum development and instructional design.

• Instructional materials are means and not an ends. Their value is in their capacity to stimulate important and interesting knowledge and learning. The mastery of the materials in the binders as an end is only important to the extent that any lesson focuses on specific content students actually need, such as accurately filling out a job application. Short of that the materials serve as a pathway in the stimulation of learning and knowledge creation rather than having intrinsic value in their own right. Neither binders nor a book are an ends in themselves, but a means toward the end of highly effective learning.

• Accordingly, the primary goal of the instructional program is not to cover the curriculum, but to stimulate effective learning. Oftentimes focusing on fewer materials with more depth is the most effective pathway to this goal. Success, in the final analysis, is determined by what and to what extent student growth in learning how to read, how to learn, and broad content mastery has increased over some decent interval of time, typically, over a year or more.

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