Likening oracy to black pudding was more serious than it seemed – that being the point – and if you read that posting here you will see I was both welcoming and ruing the contemporary focus on oracy in the classroom. My latter sentiment was based on the fact I had championed it, with some others, way back in the mid-1980s and it therefore seemed a little sad within the overall positive feel of its contemporary attention that it still required a rationale/justification for its essential classroom use.
In searching through a long-forgotten and recently found box of stuff [I am innately nostalgic and a hoarder to fuel this proclivity] I discovered among various personally relevant gems the following article I wrote for the Times Educational Supplement in 1984. This was only four years into my English teaching career and I am a little surprised at my confident conviction then – but proud of that, on reflection – and it was borne at the time out of the excellent mentoring and exemplification I received from my Head of Department. This was consolidated by my own classroom practice focusing on oracy and also the local authority English Advisor asking me to present my ideas and experiences to Heads of English at a HOD conference when I was still such a relative novice: those amazing days of professional stimulation and support in Devon, and elsewhere – you see, such deep nostalgia.
I continue to have my mixed feelings. We came a long way to implanting oracy into widespread classroom practice throughout the 90s and a little beyond, including significantly Speaking and Listening as an integral part of GCSE English assessment, but this has now disappeared as that ‘validated’ core, and even the theoretical basis of oracy’s proven value seems to be clouded by time. Thanks to the work of, among others I’m sure, Voice 21 [and read about my learning curve on this here], the English & Media Centre and NATE, that cloud is lifted by continuing promotion.
Here’s the article:
To read and/or enlarge, the article can also be viewed here: gnomes of oracy