Peer tutoring problem

22nd April 2011 at 01:00

Is "little goodie two-shoes" the new approved term for children who fail to exhibit sufficiently disruptive behaviour to engage the attention of educationalists?

In her article "Peer tutoring works better with age gap"(TESS, 15 April), Julia Belgutay seems to imply that Professor Topping uses the term in an equivalent way to "less immediately probable" as a descriptor of potential peer tutors. Together the terms suggest a view of children unfortunate for people involved in either educational research or journalism. While it is certainly important that everyone is helped and encouraged to learn, disparaging the well-behaved and motivated children seems counter- productive. They are already doing much of what we would like the rest to do. And they, too, need stretching.

Peer tutoring does seem an appealing idea, but could result in the "little goodie two-shoes" being left to read quietly together while the teacher's time is concentrated on the "less immediately probable" pairs. Assuming that teachers' efforts benefit children's learning, that could simply shift the problem of underachievement from those who are visibly disruptive to the quietly drifting.

I am not a fan of the convolutions required by political correctness, but do feel that the words we use indicate something about how we think. Gently rephrasing criticisms, while employing ugly descriptions of good behaviour, must send a clear message to children.

Mike Lonergan, Lorne Terrace, Ladybank, Fife.

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