Caught or Taught? A New Look by Margaret Lee Peters

By Margaret Lee Peters

'With admirable readability, Mrs Peters sums up what determines competence in spelling and the conventional and new methods to its teaching.' -Times Literary complement

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Quite the contrary. ’ Frequently, in practice, they spend an inordinate amount of time in discussion about spelling and this is not what is intended at all in conferencing. These are times when the surface skills of spelling are not to be in the forefront of the interaction between teacher and child. The important thing is the drive towards cognitive clarity, which has to be serviced by the technical skills, not dominated by them. Only too often, teachers get these the wrong way round which interferes with the true purpose of the conference.

Hebb called this ‘imaging’ a ‘serial reconstruction’, that is to say the reconstituting of what has been exposed for a very short space of time. There seems to be as much in the way of motor activity to this as there is when we perceive. Hebb talked about part-percep-tions being punctuated by eye-movements. This is rather like putting pieces of a jigsaw together as we examine a picture or a scene. Imaging seems to be rather like that. We are fitting together part-images of what have been part- Teaching the catching of spelling 46 perceptions in a kind of imaged jigsaw, fitting together part-images, but not usually imaging the picture as a whole.

Certainly she rejoices when he begins to talk and again when he begins to write, for he is spinning words and ideas again when he begins to write. It is, indeed, a perennial delight to a mother when her child puts pencil or felttip to paper, especially when, as so often happens, he ‘writes’ in a wavy line from left to right, and covers the paper with a simulated message of wavy lines. Sometimes he intersperses his writing with the initial of his own name or other letters he has picked up, and the mother, who gently directs his writing to counter-clockwise movements and to beginning at the top of vertical strokes, is preparing her child for what is so important in spelling, namely good handwriting.

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