Boys' zone;Letter

23rd May 1997 at 01:00
Ted Wragg's scheme for solving the problems of boys (TES, May 16) is likely to produce even more, and younger, illiterate thugs than at present exist. He forgets that what passes for education is not only curative but can be counterproductive.

Boys' early life at school is spent in a reception class which is filled with symbols saying Reading is What Counts Most Here. But it is known that many boys' language skills develop later than girls'. It is also known that continual frustration leads to demotivation and a long-term negative reaction.

What, then, is the inner experience of some boys when they are put in their first classroom? Within a very short time, they are relative failures, aged four. So they goand find something they are good at, which may demonstrate, for example, their superior physical skills.

The last time I looked at the statistics, Norway had the shortest years of compulsory schooling in Europe (about three less than ours) and the highest literacy rate. There is a great deal to be learnt from this. Our children start formal school at four or five: most other countries start later.

There are German textbooks which will take a six and a half-year-old from the alphabet to competent reading by just over seven and a quarter.

Using such methods, not onlyis there a huge reduction in the wasted time and high level offrustration of both teachers and pupils, but space is made for other more suitable activities - gym, games, music, crafts, Lego and all the other things that real kindergartens with properly trained staff do so well.

JULIET SOLOMON 2 Elms Avenue London N10

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