Should educators be less concerned about obvious simple slips in writing and step back to see the bigger picture?
It is easy to make a simple typo mistake. In fact before I submit my weekly update I usually sleep on what I have written to check in a fresh light that I am writing what I intend to convey and that there are no howling typos.
However, perhaps I should not worry about the occasional slip as according to Nick Stockton writing in Wired if your work contains simple mistakes it isn’t because you are careless or stupid but because you are very smart. He claims “When we’re reading other peoples’ work, this helps us arrive at meaning faster by using less brain power. When we’re proof reading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier for us to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent. The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads”. This makes tremendous sense to me and anyone who has proof read as many reports as I have over the years will know how difficult it is to spot your own mistakes.
How does this information affect teaching in schools? Should educators be less concerned about obvious simple slips and concentrate instead on making sure the content is correct and step back to see the bigger picture. Just as the
national curriculum review in both primary and secondary schools puts more emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar is there an argument that it doesn’t matter?
There is a difference between a typo and actually not knowing that a mistake has been made. We should all be able to spell common usage words and know the difference between their and there, for example.
Michael Morpurgo sums up this debate very well “It is really important that focusing on things such as spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting doesn’t inhibit the creative flow. When I was at school there was a huge focus on copying and testing and it put me off words and stories for years.”
At school I hope we get the balance right between teaching correct spelling, punctuation and grammar but at same time knowing when to correct work and when to let the creative thoughts flow.
I do hope you all had a lovely half term. At the senior school two very successful trips to New York and Iceland were much enjoyed by the girls and accompanying staff.