Bad Communication Skills Blamed on Television
conducted by Dr Rosemary Sage, of the University of Leicester School of
Education, reveals that the city’s children are growing up with poor
communication skills, because they are spending too much time watching
television so learning to process messages visually rather than verbally.
the thinking, speaking, reading and writing skills of children over 20 years, Dr
Sage found that having poor conversational skills is a major obstacle to making
progress at school.
tested children aged three and four at a primary school and commented: “If you
gave them an object such as a cup or spoon none of them could make as many as
three or four observations about it, which we would expect at that age.”
used to gather together every evening and recount what they had done during the
day. Children learned in that context how to put verbal ideas together in their
minds. Today, children come home from school and sit in front of the TV
processing largely picture information which does not engage children in
thinking, speaking and reflecting.
her research, Dr Sage has developed a teaching programme in thinking, speaking
and writing skills, trialled at two Leicester primary schools and three
secondary schools as well as schools in other parts of the country. Called The
Communication Opportunity Group Scheme (COGS) the scheme teaches participants to
develop their ideas clearly, with appropriate content that obeys
the conventions with regard to conduct (manner of delivery). The
scheme moves participants on from private talk, which is informal, into public
talk which is formal. This ability in public talk is what enables children to
shift from speaking into writing. The COGS teaches to the principle that people
must be able to think and talk before writing and that written tasks must be at
the level of their thinking and speaking abilities. In schools, children are
often required to write beyond the level they can think and express in talk.
involve 14 levels of learning covering primary, secondary and tertiary education
communication demands. Participants are taught in small groups often of mixed
age and ability. Initially games are played which are designed to get people
thinking and communicating, then activities like reading a poem, talking on a
set topic and role-playing are undertaken to develop aspects of spoken and
written communicative behaviour.
consists typically of a 45-minute session once a week for eight weeks, and it
has already led to dramatic improvements in participants’ thinking, speaking
and writing standards.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Further information is available from Dr Rosemary Sage, University of
Leicester School of Education, tel 0116 252 5786, fax 0116 252 3653, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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