A critique of the national literacy framework and the hour

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The literacy hour is a means of implementing the objectives designed by the Framework. In this one hour teachers devote themselves entirely to making literates of their students.The National Literacy Framework and the training it provides are based on the National Literacy Project. Its aim is laudable and it has shown a degree of success in improving literacy standards. However it has been condemned on a number of counts and many teachers are up in arms against it. Therefore it is imperative for a teacher to subject the Framework and the literacy hour to intense scrutiny and analyze its positive and negative features with respect to the subject of teaching of reading. This examination with its salient features and results are outlined below.In the words of Jeanne S.Chall and Steven Stahl, reading is an activity characterized by the translation of symbols, or letters, into words and sentences that have meaning to the individual. From their earliest years, children acquire the skills needed for learning to read. According to Chall and Stahl children as they become acclimatized to the sounds in their environment, learn that spoken words are composed of separate sounds and that letters can represent these sounds. Itzhoff (1996:20) also stresses the importance of language proficiency in reading proficiency. Therefore parents can help children on their journey to fluent reading by diligently reading bedtime stories, having conversations and indulging in language play.
Children having equipped themselves with these skills are now ready to learn reading. The National Literacy Framework has outlined three levels of work that children have to master in order to become literate.
1. Word-level work that includes phonics, proficiency in spelling and an improving vocabulary.
2. Sentence-level work pertaining to grammatical and punctuation rules.
3. Text-level work with regard to comprehension and composition skills.
Wray et al. (2001:2) state that, Each of these three levels was seen as essential to effective reading and writing and there is a close interrelationship between them. It now remains for the teacher to impart knowledge to the students about these skills as they constitute the entire foundation of their future proficiency in reading and writing.
Success in literacy is measured not by what children know about texts, print etc. but by what they can do with them.(Wray et al. 2001:6) this statement captures the essence of what literacy is meant to do. The prerequisites for effective teachers and methods of teaching given below are derived from the research done by Wray, Medwell, Poulson and Fox.
Effective teachers have a clear idea of what they are going to teach and how they are going to go about it. They are systematic in their teaching methods. Teaching is done using shared texts, where the teacher and students pool their resources to negotiate their way through the obscure and sometimes treacherous terrain of grammar, punctuation and other literacy essentials. The many aspects of reading and writing are taught not as so many isolated shards of information but as part of a larger, comprehensive whole. Good teachers have well-developed system for monitoring every individual student’s progress and catering to their needs accordingly.
Effective methods of teaching include careful attention to the teaching of pronunciation, word features like syllables and inflections, synonyms, punctuations, grammatical constructions etc. A suitable literate environment must be constructed bearing in mind a