Tuesday 5 March 2013

I have Google analytics on this site apparently. I say apparently, as in no way was I involved in setting them up, they just came with the site. [Sorry technophobe that I am, it takes me all my time to log in in the first place, never mind setting up something so complicated.]

But the analysis is there, for the taking as it were. And so occasionally I look at it and every time I do, it gives me cause to wonder. There are people in Spain, Poland, the Ukraine and even Sweden who read this blog, as well as the more expected citizens of the good ol' US of A and of course, the UK. Now [and just in case you too are a technophobe just like me, I don't know exactly who these people are or even their address] all I know is what area of the world they live in.

But this always gets me thinking. Are they native American or British people, who now reside/work out in these more exotic destinations? Or are they native to the land in which they reside? If they are native, that poses even further questions, such as are they reading this in English?  Or is it being translated into some pigeon version of another language so that if I were to say I was "fed up" it would translate into a phrase which meant over-full?

Assuming therefore that they are reading it in English, brings me to my main point. If people in other countries can read this in English, in a time when there are surveys, test results, reports and a multitude of other data, which constantly inform us that children are leaving our UK schools, in many cases almost unable to write their own names, then that is a strange fact indeed!

It has long been known that there is an underclass in Britain who are almost illiterate, often through no fault of their own. These people straddle the more traditional class system and are found across the board, in every age group and every socio-economic grouping.

In some cases, there was a failing within the school system and in some there were underlying contributory factors such as dyslexia which went unrecognised. Years ago the slightly deaf and slightly myopic also suffered, if their condition went undetected. In my own family, I am aware that those who needed glasses or hearing aids were often incorrectly thought of as 'slow' and stationed at the back of the class, where they would not cause trouble for the 'brighter' pupils. This of course meant that the small amount that they could see/ hear was further diminished!

But things have greatly changed. Those days are gone thankfully. And schools are working hard to encourage children to learn. Lessons are fun and interactive and colours are bright and jaunty within the classrooms.

More importantly, there is an emphasis on reading for pleasure. For me this is the key to everything. If you teach a child to read and more importantly, instil within it, the pleasure that can be gained from that simple act, then you will be on to a winner! Because being able to confidently and eloquently read, opens up a world of possibilities for a child. They can then read and glean facts from the plethora of books that available on every topic possible, from how to water a plant, to how to build a space ship.

But the most important thing, I believe, is that reading allows the imagination to fire up, to gather wind under its sails and take flight...and it is this burgeoning imagination which will turn the next generation into the architects of their own futures and destinies.

Tomorrow and on Friday, I will be in libraries in Sandwell, helping children discover what reading and writing can give them. Not just what to do to keep their teacher happy, but how those two very simple acts can take them on flights of fancy to where ever the elastic of their minds can fabricate.

It's going to be fun! 

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