• We all have the right to write. Anything we can say, we can write.
  • We all can write well if we are emotionally involved in our topic and our purpose. We find our voices there. Writing is learning and discovering. It develops best in real-life situations, with the instructor intervening in the writing process.
  • We learn to read by having written. We learn from our experiences, including experiences with oral and written texts. We should expose ourselves to many texts, and often do free-choice reading.
  • We learn best in collaborative, diverse, and supportive communities. We all learn in our own ways, and our home cultures affect how we interpret our experiences.
  • Moving through the writing process can produce powerful writing. We gain more ownership over our writing if we master the writing process.
  • Writing is a strong tool for developing critical thinking. Challenging our thinking as we write in collaborative settings, develops academic language proficiency.
  • We teach equitably:  not less, but more to the poor. We recognize our children's home communities and ancestral cultures as our educational partners.
Community Schools
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The Sentinel English Language Institute (SELI) advocates a community junior secondary educational model to enhance language arts learning for the rural student in Sierra Leone. The model is drawn on our experienc working with junior secondary process-writing urban and rural Young Writers clubs under the Seli River Writing Project. Proficiency in English could be used as a predictor of academic success in this Anglophone West African country but such success is inaccessible to many children of poverty. Poverty is most widespread in rural areas, but also affects a large percentage of students in urban areas. A successful rural community school model could also be adapted to an urban setting.

Our rural community school model includes the following elements:

1.1. Individual JSS schools should take the initiative of building a cooperative relationship with the communities they serve.

1.2. Sierra Leone JSS schools and their communities ought to follow a Sierra Leonean adaptation of the New Mexico Public Education Department's Rural Revitalization program. "Improving education in the rural areas of New Mexico is based on the concept of holistic community revitalization and the inclusion of economic development with significant school involvement."[1] Schools act as catalysts for economic improvement in the community. Students carry out authentic projects as part of their normal class work researching economic opportunities in the community, thus building a tighter relationship between schools and communities.

1.3. Sierra Leone JSS schools and their communities ought to follow a Sierra Leonean adaptation of the Whole Child Initiative of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) to ensure a whole child education of each child.

"The Whole Child Initiative proposes a definition of achievement and accountability that promotes the development of children who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. We seek to redefine what a successful learner is and how we measure success. ASCD is helping educators, families, community members, and policymakers move from rhetoric about educating the whole child to reality."[2]

1.4. Teacher training colleges should be developing meaningful expertise in research-based ESL instructional strategies for language arts teachers, and JSS language arts employment must be linked to informed instructional supervision and ongoing in-servicing obligations and incentives. A corps of ESL language arts teacher specialists should be developed, who may be called on to supervise and in-service a school's staff or provide distance instructional support for rural schools. With solar power and mobile internet access, a student writer in a remote rural village can have an editing conference on a multiple-draft report with a specialist anywhere in the country.

1.5. Four provincial school library clearinghouses (PSLCs) should be established (see proposal on this site)

[1] Rural Education Bureau vision: vibrant and productive school districts and communities in rural New Mexico. Santa Fe: New Mexico Public Education Department.

[2] http://www.ascd.org/programs/The-Whole-Child/The-Whole-Child.aspx


Last Updated on Thursday, 24 February 2011 20:36
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