Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 29, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
THI LCTHBRIDCE HERALD WednOftdoy, November 29, 1971 I HONORED ON BIRTHDAY Joseph Baruch Salsberg, Communist member of the Ontario Legislature from 1945 to 1955, slands in front of ihe in Toronto where his sharp-longued assoulls often dominaled debates. He celebrated his 70th birth- day recently at o dinner sponsored by many who fought him as o Communist. Reading and writing 4 A good teacher fires excitement' A good teacher Is one who can imbue a sluclenl with ex- citement about words and lang- uage, says Dr. Joel Gajadhat1- an associate professor in the [acuity of education at the University of Lethbridgc. And, as iastrudor in charge of the English program in the education faculty, one of Dr. Gajadharsingli's main concerns is equipping future teachers to achieve such a goal. "A good teacher, a sensitive he says "is one who can begin teaching a child read- ing and vocabulary at his nat- ural level and, by catching the child's imagination, stimulate him to move on to higher levels of competence and perform- ance." The psychology of teaching English and its components vocabulary, composition, read- ing, spelling is a subject of fascination to Dr. Gajadhar- singh, a subject about which he becomes visibly excited. "Look." he will tell you, rummaging through his files and producing several themes written by grade swen stud- ents, "look at the colorful modes of expression these chil- dren have mastered, after just six weeks of instruction." And one realizes that to Joel Gajadharsingh. a child can suf- fer no worse Tale than to be locked within the prison of his own inarticulalion and can be given no greater gift than the ability of diverse self-express- ion. KHY APPROACH One of Ihe keys (o successful presentation of language, liter- ature and composition in tile eUissroom is the concept of subject integration, emphas- izes Dr. Gajadharsingh. "This is a very simple practical he says. "A teacher should try to relate the relevant areas of ihe English prograirt io that the student is able to view language as an in- tegrated concept." For instance, even al the ele- mentary level, a teacher can begin with an integrated ap- proach by reading children a story, then using the vocabul- ary from story ID intro- duce new words and spellings. And finally, using sentences ifrom the same work as the basis for a grammar or compo- sition lesson. "The important thin g." stresses Dr. Gajadharsingh, "is that after the teacher examines (lie subject with the children, the words, sentences and ex- cerpts are brought back to uni- ty, synthesized, so students re- gard the story as a unified whole, made up of variety of constructions, words and ideas." The whole approach seems ridiculously simple when ex- plained by an excited and en- thusiastic professor who genu- inely cares about the direction and development of language. "There is really nothing new in what I'm admits Dr. Gajadharsingh. "Sensitive teachers have been doing it ill along. But sometimes, one fears there are not enough such teachers who can deal enthusi- astically and competently with the English program. TO BLAME Dr. Gajadharsingh believes that the accepted methods of educating potential English tea- chers may be the cause of many problems. "Too he Bays, "a per- son who intends to become an English teacher is an English major who has studied quan- tities of literature in university hut has been given no courses in the ha.sics of language and composition. "Aiid expect them to teach elementary composi- tion in the classroom. How can we ask this, when jiany teach- ers have not been given an ade- quate backcr6und in One of Dr. Gaiadharsingh's solutions to such a situation is simple: change the education English teachers are given. To this end, he is developing a tentative program for prospec- tive English education students which would give more or less equal emphasis to aspects of English composition and to the study of great literary works. A teacher's job, says Dr. GaJHdharsingh, IB to teach stu- dents to manipulate language for an intended purpose, to be- come facile in self-expression, [o speak write colorfully. "If a teacher does that for my children, 1 would consider it a priceless says the professor. "Children have wonderful affirms Dr Gajadhar- singh. "The problem arises wlien ttiey wish to express themselves and lack the voca- bulary to do so. They-become frustrated, bored With that in mind, H teacher should help students learn al- ternate ways of saying the same thing, to introduce new options, new modes of expres- sion so that the student has a choice of phra.ses and words to employ when describing his ex- periences. A very young child, says Joel Gajadharsingh, leana words by imitation and Is Intrigued by new words. All too often, this initial curiosity and interest in language is stilled because "control" over language is im- posed before the child "fluency" with his language. Fluency before control should be the teacher's primary con- cern. It becomee a smpie task to assist in controlling their language, when they have something to say and when they are aware d the diet their language permits. "As teachers we must not only teach students to concepts inherent In the langu- age, we must teach them to apply what they have learned. 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