AB3: Conversation 3

What interest does government have in supporting the cross-contextual development of writers?

11 thoughts on “AB3: Conversation 3

  1. Alpha Table – same people plus Brendan Richardson, Hernando Buitrago, Andrea Hanslip

    1. Lots of attention on essential skills and recognition of the broad impact of LES deficits. Still far less recognition or action on integrating soft skill fundamentals into training opportunities.

    2. Increased productivity – will increase GDP –
    3. Return on investment is positive – so financial gain and social return
    4. Should be pro-active and act early
    5. Disengaged population (which is enhanced by low lit) is a dangerous population so is in interests of gov’t to education ( Though it seems that sometimes gov’t prefer an ignorant audience in the shorter term).
    6. gov’t needs to get out there
    7. not underfunding
    8. How do we get government to see the value in practice? How can we show it in ways funders will support more actively?
    9. Research shows workplace programs does have lasting impacts.
    10. Funders must be able to show value of what they fund, we need to help them.
    11.Alberta increasing age of when people must exit k-12 system to 21. So gov’t supports do not need to be directly $. Enlightened policy
    12. Make easier for private sector to contribute to education
    13. Red tape can be a challenge for good programs so they do not happen.
    14. Make it easier for good programs to get funding.
    15. More opportunities for gov’t to meet and talk to providers – sessions like these.
    16. Interesting that people still have a passion for essential skills.
    17. LES programs frequently delivered by non-profits and yet gov’ts do not really show non-profits the same respect as they would for profit companies despite the fact that they are a large sector. Diff financial expectations, controls etc.
    18. Is this a reflection of the way governments look at our clientel also?
    19.Programs for pre-immigrant – before people arrive? More efficient.
    20. How does government measure success in literacy programs if actual ‘grade level’ type data does not show increases? Need something broader that gets at economic impact??

  2. Speaker: Pat Ferminger (GOA)

    What interest does government have in supporting the cross-contextual development of writers?
    Group Discussion:

    -Government needs to have a commitment to plain language because when navigating government documents it is extremely difficult for many individuals to access the information and documents that they need to
    -Efforts get made to increase plain language resources, however as management changes, website changes happen, the efforts get lost
    -Although overall education levels may be rising within some populations, there are many individuals who cannot access resources
    -Many major points of government access are automated, at least in the preliminary inquiry, so the need for plain language resources is even more necessary
    -Critical framework right now is the Living Literacy Framework
    -It is important to embed literacy components within training programs, and more efforts need to be made to have this happen
    -Alberta is very work focused, so much of the efforts are targeted at workforce: “Learn to Earn”
    -It’s about skills for employment, but it’s also about quality of life
    -Employment is one way to achieve quality of life, but it is not the only way
    -The pathway to getting good writing skills is not just about getting employed, it is about serving a personal purpose be it personal sense of achievement, engage in community (citizenship)
    -Writing is process and repetition
    -If you can improve writing through process and repetition, these skills transfer into life, work, etc.
    -Can we think of other purposes of writing that would improve their skills
    -There are people who have left jobs because a lack of confidence
    -People fear failure because of lack of skills, even though they may be employed
    -There is a bigger picture at play: We are moving into the “knowledge economy,” so even if employment is not the sole focus, writing is still necessary
    -Consistently hear, if I hire a new graduate, they don’t know how to write
    -High stakes learning is a huge issue in relation to pairing employment to learning
    -It is problematic that people have fear around learning yet their employment opportunities are tied to quick, drive-through learning opportunities in some instances
    -Influence of modern age communication (i.e. social media)
    -Pressure learners experience to get a better job, learn more, balance family, etc.
    -Other factors influence learning-racism/discrimination, poverty
    -Many instances where diverse learning communities support co-learning
    -Need to have a community of learning
    -Collaborative learning is how we learn best
    -How could we incorporate an increased sense of safety in learning and a community of learning in some of these higher stakes instances? Can we reduce some of the risks associated with learning (particularly in relation to employment) with/by increasing collaborative learning environments
    -The concept of risk has come up in the first two Alberta Writes conferences
    -The GOA states 40% of Albertans “struggle with their ability to understand and use information from texts.” Who makes up this 40%? It is important to understand where these stats come from and what this group’s needs are
    -Writing is contextual, so you need to respond to someone’s learning needs appropriately in a way that is relatable
    -Life situation impacts our ability to expand our learning, strategies, and skills
    -You can find a new delivery model but you need to respond to the learner’s needs
    -Need long-term programming!
    -So often programs are short term and learners don’t have the opportunity to develop skills, especially in relation to skills that take time to develop (i.e. Writing)
    -Writing: There is no magic bullet, it is one of the longest skills it takes to acquire
    -Some of the more successful schools in this province adopt a community learning model
    -A whole person, whole learning model is important
    -Successful learning makes space for what is happening in that person’s life: family, life, work, etc.
    -GOA is working on an integrated service delivery model, trying to reduce some of the one-stop shopping programming that is so hazardous. It is not a band-aid solution for everyone because everyone’s situations are different
    -GOA was only introduced to the integrated service delivery model recently
    -However, it is important to ensure effective delivery of new models
    -It is so critical to have everyone invested in the same ideas
    -The model looks like it is more expensive, but the long-term effects are not actually more expensive
    -Longitudinal studies are needed to understand how successful programs and learners are because in a small snapshot the failure is emphasized however over a longer period of time would show that success is complex and often takes time, needing to set up supports within a program and within one’s own life for learning
    -We could all work together to track things better
    -We need to get more sophisticated in how we track data in order to have a more accurate understanding of the learning process

  3. Increased cross contextual writing skills allow people to participate more fully in all aspects of their life.
    Writing is very visible and lasting. If people can’t write competently they may quit writing at all.
    Writing mistakes in the workplace cost time and money, and can affect safety.

    Some of the existing government plans,like Employment First, sound really good. BVC’s high school AC Prep are focusing on Workplace rather than academic. That must be a reflection of government mandates. What is in the learner’s best interest. What are the cultural and social implications?
    The implication of these new initiatives will have far reaching ripples.
    Is there a voice at the table that represents the learner? What would they say? Want jobs, better paying jobs, human rights, to not feel stupid, to be able to use literacy skills in their daily life.
    It’s a cycle, the more people that are employed, the more taxpayers there are, and the more programs they can fund.
    Government still needs some direction from the grassroots stakeholders.

    There is not a lot of information about jobs that are available for people with low levels of literacy.
    Could government take a proactive role in supporting job positions for low literacy adults? Could they work with employers to create and support positions and training for low literacy workers?
    The fact that we don’t have a federal bureau of education makes a comprehensive, cohesive approach to educational development difficult.

  4. Table: Roger, Andrew, Amber, Dorothy, Craig, Brooklin, Leslie

    -social value to individuals & society as a whole as well as economic
    -essential skills cross contexts with common vocabulary and approach
    -arts groups trying to show value of creativity and quantify for awareness of its social impact
    -ESL learners identified a cultural knowledge as different from essential skills
    -use of 21st century skills in high school vs. or = essential skills? i.e. global communication skills
    -use of digital technology in the class
    -is digital literacy a separate skill or embedded in all essential skills?
    -student use of digital technology is focused on social and entertainment and they don’t necessarily know how to use it for other purposes
    -digital native skill ability probably overestimated
    -in K-12 where do you start asking for student accountability vs. social promotion?
    -value in Diploma Exams? vs. course grades?
    -Is the purpose to differentiate Alberta and promote outcomes?
    -do the Diploma Exams or Gr. 9 exams help students write better?
    -Variances in academic and non-academic exams so wide
    Education policies can interfere with literacy and writing?!

  5. Our table noticed that the question on the agenda and the question on the blog are asked differently. The blog uses ” interest of government” and the agenda uses “the role of government”.

    A conversation shift occurred when this difference was noticed as there appears to be a huge difference between the role, or actions it can take, and the interest, the actions the might be willing to take.

    Very curious indeed…

  6. Maybe we need a new question:

    What interest does the government have in supporting the development of people?

    What role does government have in connecting all interests?

  7. Government support for models of educations were industry and education partner to develop curriculum and target skills. Germany example where learning and funding is shared. Does this fly with Alberta? Canada? Your community?

  8. Political leanings do affect approaches to literacy strategies.

    Who is responsible determined by perception. Is it a federal, provincial, municipal, community, party or individual responsibility?

    Tough questions and tougher answers

  9. Demographic considerations play an intriguing role in the discussion. Literacy tends to decrease with age and we are facing an aging population; however, do you invest in one demographic, or do you invest in an emerging problem (youth). Preferably, an investment across the demographic range is created.

  10. Health impacts of higher literacy are alone a point of interest for government. As the population ages and as the population becomes more diverse, health implications are likely to become paramount as a focus or concern. Evidence suggests that higher levels of literacy equate to higher rates of health or improved health decision making.

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