The New Literacy


When I was studying for my PG Diploma in (as was) SEN, we were told that a characteristic of support for learning teachers was their ‘low ego needs’. Now I am not sure this is true in general, but we are a tribe accustomed to seeing others take the credit for what was once our suggestion. Colleagues don’t do this deliberately to put us down; it’s just that any positive contribution we have made to improve provision for those with difficulties is frequently adopted without attribution. And quite rightly so.

For example, for more years than I would like to count, I have been recommending the use of comics – both for reading and writing. While these are incredibly useful for engaging reluctant readers, I have long believed that everybody benefits from composing in this format. The ability to write succinctly is one of the most important tools of any writer.

(I have to admit that I avoid graphic novels for myself. I was given a version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and am struggling with the format. But I know several young men in their early 30’s who avidly read a wide range of such novels so this might be an age/gender thing.)

So it is pleasing to see that reading and creating graphic novels are at last becoming part of mainstream activities. I mentioned a terrific example in my last post and also wrote about them here.

And here is another fantastic example from the Craft, Design and Technology department of The Royal High School in Edinburgh. They have been encouraging the Higher Graphic students to create graphic stories for children.

Krysia, the teacher, writes:

This is quite a departure from the leaflets that pupils have produced on the Higher Graphics course over the last few years.  All pupils were given the option to create a leaflet instead of a book, but all opted for a story book.  A considerable amount of extra work was needed to realise their books, but almost everyone rose to the challenge, and will have an unusual portfolio piece to take along to university interviews in future.

I am in awe of the immense amount of work that has gone into this project. And thrilled that this appears to be true inclusion where all are able to express themselves in true 21st century style.

This certainly is literacy across learning.


Graphic novel format to communicate with young people

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An ‘out of this world’ way to understand pupil council research findings is to be released this week.

Children in Scotland announces that every school in Scotland will receive copies of an innovative comic book this week that shares the findings of Having a Say at School (HASAS), the largest Scottish study of pupil councils ever undertaken, conducted by Children in Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

An alien starship crew has been enlisted to communicate new research findings on pupil councils to children and young people across Scotland. A cartoon format answers the question of how to communicate relevant but dry facts and research findings to primary and secondary school pupils in an engaging way through a team from the planet Didactica, who arrive in Scotland to study democracy in other worlds. The alien crew highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the pupil councils they find and what the councils need – including two-way communication, the right tools and enough time – to make sure they can work properly.

Jonathan Sher, Children in Scotland’s Director of Research, said:

Too often, the results of research done about students is not shared with them. And when it is, it tends to be boring and therefore ignored. We created this comic book because we are keen for students to enjoy the experience of learning the lessons from Having a Say at School.

What an innovative and interesting way to include youngsters.