Ohio: School leaders sorting out 'Ohio Core'
Iolo Madoc Jones
i.m.jones at newi.ac.uk
Tue Jan 23 09:08:59 UTC 2007
Many children 'do not have deep connection' with Welsh language Jan 20 2007
Martin Shipton, Western Mail
FRESH fears over the future of the Welsh language have been raised by researchers.
According to a new study, many children in Wales do not have a deep attachment to the language, even when they learn to speak it fluently.
Dr Jonathan Scourfield, pictured, of Cardiff University's School of Social Sciences, was part of a team that interviewed 10-year-olds in a cross-section of six primary schools across Wales.
In an article for the Institute of Welsh Affairs' journal Agenda, Dr Scourfield writes, "Although the children made frequent connections between being Welsh and speaking Welsh in casual talk, our research does not necessarily bode well for the future of the Welsh language. One school we went to, in a part of Wales where the language has traditionally been very strong, could clearly give cause for concern if it indicates in any way what is going on elsewhere. Although the children there were fluent in Welsh, they did not see the language as having practical use as a community language. They saw it as something that old people speak and that children speak in the classroom (not outside the school gates).
"Many of the Welsh-speaking children saw the language as something that would help them get on in life, to learn other languages and get better jobs. We could be optimistic about this as evidence that the language now has status in public life - a great improvement on the scenario 50 years before when it was seen as holding people back. However, the children did not speak of the Welsh language meaning anything to them on a deeper level. They did not speak of any strong attachment to the language or any particular identification with it. To be more pessimistic, we could see this lack of personal attachment as undermining policies designed to extend the use of Welsh. The risk is that we get a Wales with more people able to understand the language, if not speak it, but who do not actually use it at all in their everyday lives, because they do not need to and because it does not really matter to them
"We could, therefore, conclude with a rather pessimistic picture both for an inclusive Welsh citizenship and for Welsh distinctiveness with regard to language. However we did find some things to challenge this pessimism. Some children were actively and creatively engaged in finding new ways to construct an inclusive Wales. The linguistic territory was pretty free of tensions and trouble for the children and those who were bilingual tended to be very relaxed in their dual language use.
"We need to maintain the Welsh language as the most obviously distinctive aspect of our culture, but we cannot have exclusive ideas about Welsh identity as necessarily tied to an ability to speak the language. We should encourage children to look beyond narrow versions of Wales from the adult world and encourage them to build their own creative visions of Wales and what it means to be Welsh citizens."
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Language Board said the nation was developing into an increasingly bilingual country and welcomed the finding that young people were "relaxed" about speaking two languages.
She added, " We are investing heavily in increasing social opportunities for young people to use the language in a variety of contexts making it a relevant and natural part of their lives."
An Assembly spokesperson also pointed to the growing numbers of Welsh speakers, adding, "We recognise the challenge of providing opportunities and a context for these young people to use Welsh beyond the school gates. That is why so much of the £40m extra we have invested in the Welsh language since 2003 has been spent on initiatives to support and promote the use of Welsh in young people
From: Harold F. Schiffman
Sent: Mon 22/01/2007 14:01
To: Language Policy-List
Subject: Ohio: School leaders sorting out 'Ohio Core'
School leaders sorting out 'Ohio Core'
January 21, 2007
By LINDA HALL
WOOSTER DISTRICT -- The "Ohio Core" establishes a new minimum high school
curriculum for public and chartered nonpublic schools. The curriculum,
designed as a more rigorous requirement for high school graduation and
prerequisite for admission to Ohio colleges, was signed into law by former
Gov. Bob Taft on Jan. 3. The first group of students to face its impact
will be the Class of 2012. Students entering their freshman year in the
2008-09 school year will be required to follow the new minimum curriculum,
still consisting of 20 units of study, but redistributed among the subject
areas. While only three units of math were required before passage of the
"Ohio Core," beginning in the fall of 2008 students must take four units
of math, including a course in Algebra II or its equivalent.
Science still will comprise three units, but beyond the required unit of
physical science and biology, one unit of advanced study in one of three
categories -- chemistry, physics or other physical science; advance
biology or other life science; astronomy, physical geology or other earth
or space science -- also will be demanded. Social studies, health and
physical education requirements remain the same. Electives will be reduced
from six units to five units and will expand from business/technology,
fine arts or foreign language to one or a combination of the following --
foreign language, fine arts, business, career-technical education, family
and consumer sciences, technology, agricultural education, or English
language arts, math, science or social studies courses not required in the
Foreign language requirements may be one of the gray areas needing further
examination. When Wooster City Schools' board member Bob Walton asked at a
recent work session, "How many languages should we really teach?" his
question was based on what he described as "out of whack" student/teacher
ratios and his belief that "certain languages are essentially dying," or
no longer in demand. "... or we can't offer enough years (of a specific
language) to make it worthwhile," Walton said. Because of those
considerations, Walton said he would like to discuss the overall foreign
language department, rather than just adopt the course of study under
consideration at the board meeting.
When the core curriculum was approved, "we began that conversation," Good
said, because "foreign language is lumped in with other (academic areas)."
According to a bill summary by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission,
the state board of education must establish a foreign language advisory
council, charged with proposing a statewide foreign language
implementation plan by the end of the year.
Honors courses also will be modified. A concern for Triway Superintendent
Dave Rice is a student's right to earn physical education credits for
extracurricular activities, such as football or cheerleading. Under core
curriculum provisions, a school may excuse from physical education
requirements students who have participated in athletics, marching band or
cheerleading for at least two seasons. It may be a "good thing," Rice
said, but even so, he views it as potentially contradictory to the most
recent push from the state to increase physical activity for students as
part of the wellness policy, new this year.
Extracurricular physical activity should "be on top of (physical education
classes), not instead of," Rice said, questioning the wisdom of giving gym
credit for cheerleading, for instance, in order to free up another period
for a sedentary math class. Other exchanges also may be made under core
curriculum. The state is seeking a way to assess high school students'
preparation for college and work, particularly in the areas of English and
math. "I predict exit exams for students that indicate readiness for
freshman-level work," Good said. Also on the docket is the ability for
students to earn high school credit based on demonstration of subject area
Rice predicted it will take some time to work out the kinks and plans to
concentrate on the effort over the summer. Good has presented information
on core curriculum to district principals and plans presentations for high
school department heads and monthly administrative meetings.
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