One of the best-known figures in the children’s book world, the excellent Michael Rosen has a “serious question” to ask at his blog this week about “classroom discussion”:
How many hours a week is it possible to have a discussion with a class or within a class where ideas are discussed – not as a debate with ‘sides’ but simply discussing ideas? And parallel with that: how many hours or minutes a week is it possible to talk about feelings? Or both at the same time? This kind of discussion might arise out of a book, a poem, a song, a piece of art – or just stimulated by something that has happened or that someone has seen. Or indeed from eg Philosophy lesson or Circle Time.
Answers please on a postcard – no – on facebook or twitter please. Just curious to know how much room there is for this sort of thing now. Any Key Stage.
Source: Michael Rosen.
… and I would add, I am interested in anyone using Rosemary Sutcliff‘s work or life to prompt such discussion in classrooms. I recently posted a quote from Margaret Meek in Books for Keeps which points to just the sort of discussion I take Michael Rosen to value. But that was many years ago.
… I remember, with gratitude and some pain, a class of girls in a London secondary school in the early seventies. The parents of most of them had come from the Caribbean; I guess their own children are now in school. Then they were the first of their kind to speak out their awareness of the complications we now call `multi-cultural’. They were reading with their gifted teacher, Joan Goody, The Eagle of the Ninth (by Rosemary Sutcliff). On this particular day they ignored the dashing young Roman hero, recovering from a battle wound in his uncle’s house in Bath, and concentrated on the girl next door, Cottia, a Briton. Cottia’s uncle and aunt were taking her to the games, and in their hankering after Roman ways had tried to insist that she wear Roman clothes and speak Latin. Cottia protested, and so did the readers, on her behalf. I’ve never heard a more spirited discussion than that one, when those girls spoke indirectly of their nearest concerns in arguing on behalf of Cottia, who existed only in a book.
Source: Article by Margaret Meek | Books for Keeps Issue 64