THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am strongly proposing that all teachers in Jamaica, regardless of their subject area of specialisation, be trained in facilitating literacy instruction.
The reality is that a great number of our students at the primary and secondary level of our education system cannot read well. Consequently, we must equip our educators to teach and model literacy skills right across the curriculum.
Science and social studies teachers, for example, who are cognisant of literacy strategies such as semantic mapping, the KWL chart (K-What I know, W-What I want to know and L-What I have learnt), and anticipation guides can effectively enhance students' understanding of expository materials. Certainly, employment of these strategies would also help to eliminate rote learning and actively engage students in constructing their own knowledge during the instructional process.
Moreover, students need to be able to read and write well in order to succeed in all academic disciplines. Subjects such as physics, chemistry and mathematics, though predominantly constructed around calculations, still require students to describe or explain different phenomena.
The probability of students excelling at these tasks will be heavily dependent on their capacity to interpret the language in which the tasks are framed and their adeptness at using the English language to clearly and fluently express their grasp and application of the content.
As teachers, we cannot perpetuate the traditional methods of teaching or become complacent with simply knowing and teaching the content in the areas in which we specialise. We also need to learn certain rudiments of literacy development, because this forms the foundation of learning.
This approach is more likely to engender an improvement in our classroom instruction and in our students' performance.
SHAWNA KAY WILLIAMS
PR Officer, Mico Guild of Students