Charles Temple, professor of education, delivered the closing keynote address to the 1,400 delegates gathered in Manila, the Philippines, for the 20th annual World Congress of the International Reading Association. Delegates came from 46 countries, with the largest participation coming from the Asian region. He was introduced by Professor Richard Allington, incoming president of the International Reading Association and father of Mike Allington '02.
The topic of the address was “Literacy Education as Social Change.” Noting that the world’s donor nations have agreed to make poverty reduction through universal education as their number one priority, Temple quoted from UNESCO’s statements about the “Education for All” initiative: development agencies expect education to make people more reflective, increase their productivity, make people healthier and their families smaller, and make people more tolerant of each other.
“They are bound to be disappointed,” said Temple—citing Paolo Freire, John Dewey and as well as experience in international teacher education initiatives, all suggesting that traditional education, with its focus on rote learning and traditional teacher-centered classrooms, rarely achieves those objectives.
But if they lend their energies to the Education for All Initiative, and if they adopt three new priorities, the International Reading Association and the assembled delegates have a fighting chance of making a success of these development initiatives after all, he argued. The new priorities are:
–Teaching students to think;
–Promoting and supporting habits of life-long literacy and learning; and
–Building civil society.
As examples of works that could address each of these goals, Temple drew on the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Project in Central Europe and Central Asia, the book writing project for Roma (gypsy) children, and basic literacy projects in Tanzania and the Dominican Republic.