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From: Marie Cora (
Date: Thu Jan 06 2005 - 10:31:18 EST

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From: "Marie Cora" <>
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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:849] RE: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:848] Re:  Skills Discussion fro
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Hi Karen,

Thanks for your reply.

I recently heard a British footballer try to explain the off-side rule
in under 30 seconds.  You can imagine how far he got. He actually could
have taken 30 minutes and I still wouldn't get it in the least.  My
husband (from Manchester) explains it to me every time we watch a match.

But on to work stuff:  can you show us or give us a link to this

It sounds like the "skills gap" thing is based on a deficit model -
which I really have large issues with. I note that many of the
approaches to education, regardless of age or institution, are based on
deficit models:  "what is it that the student can't do that she needs to
do?" rather than "what can the student do and how can we take advantage
of that ability to help him enhance it, and use it to help him learn
other stuff on top."

As to your point about it being fashionable to have narrow targets to
tick off when all done - this reminds me of the struggle with portfolios
here.  Although a portfolio approach might be more appropriate as a
measure of a particular thing (let's say writing), to then send it
someplace as a form of data just doesn't work.  So even a portfolio
necessarily has to be distilled and codified at the high stakes level.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2005 5:02 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:848] Re: CORRECTION!  Interesting discussion
on AALDP!!

Thank you for this link.  I was particularly interested in some of the
comments by Tom Sticht.  He suggests that sometimes people use the word
'skills' inappropriately in the context of reading.  THANK YOU TOM
recently reading the blurb that comes with a very popular 'diagnostic'
assessment instrument widely used in further (ie mostly post 16)
education in England.  It said that the purpose of the instrument
(which, of course, comes in an IT on-screen form as well as a paper
version) is to identify where learners have 'skills gaps' that can be
filled.  I am unhappy about the negative view of every single learner in
the whole world implied by this - but I think it follows inevitably from
the 'mastery' behaviourist approach about which I might have moaned on
this list in the past.  But then this use of the word 'skills' annoys me
too.  When I !
first started to get annoyed about it, I would have said that as English
teachers we ought to try to use words carefully.  There is a Professor
of Psychology called Frank Coffield who has poked fun at what another
Professor (called Terry Hyland) has called 'skillspeak' or something
like it by referring to Gilbert and Sullivan: 'Skills? I've got a little
list'.  So knowing the basic meanings of prefixes like 'sub' or 'in' is
now a 'skill' and so on.  

I wouldn't mind so much, but the teaching products linked with this
particular diagnostic instrument inform me that in the sentence 'Because
of the foul, a free kick was awarded' the word 'Because' is the subject
of a passive verb.  You don't have to be an expert on the UK game of
soccer (which I am not, and shall never be: many have tried in vain to
keep my attention fixed on the offside rule long enough to get an
explanation of it into my head) to see that this is simply wrong.  

Unfortunately, this diagnostics print out targets for individual
learning plans, which attracts many people because there is a fashion
here for specific, measurable targets expressed in terms of bullet
points (which might or might not represent or express 'skills' or even
'underpinning skills and knowledge').  I think I have explained about
these before. 


Happy New Year.


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