Language, Literacy and Numeracy as Unfolding Skills

Language, literacy and numeracy are learned progressively in key spaces, which come to shape future uses and come to influence what is spoken about, what is read and what is calculated. 

I want to paint a picture of the child who is regularly engaged in conversation, regularly engaged in reading and writing and who is regularly engaged in calculating. I want to paint the picture of skills and concepts being developed (one on top of the other) carefully so that the range of cultural uses of the tools are acquired (not just one narrow band). I want to paint a picture in which the consolidation of one skill or the revelation of something read or written merely becomes the blueprint of what is to come next. 

The child evokes imaginative play, cautionary advice, reflective practice on information, assessment of quantities, and more. The adults in a child's life initiate the child in the practices which will become more and more demanding over time. Every text read and written will become a template for the next. And every numerical question solved will be used to influence those to come. There is no silver bullet for the ongoing skills which are acquired. Quick fix educators may hope to resolve issues of language, literacy and numeracy without appealing to the hundreds to thousands of encounters which contribute to their development, but the fact of the matter remains: learning to read, write, speak and calculate requires hundreds and thousands of encounters with more advanced peers and adults providing feedback, establishing expectations, providing encouragement and shaping practice.

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Philosophy is an Activity

From "5 Minute Tute: Philosophy" by Rick Lewis (founder and editor of Philosophy Now) on


"Most academic disciplines are defined by their subject matter, but with Philosophy this is tricky, because its subject matter is, well, everything. We could say that Philosophy is a critical investigation into any aspect of the universe or of human experience. Maybe Wittgenstein’s approach is more useful here: he said that Philosophy is an activity rather than a subject. It is the activity of rational reflection, of challenging assumptions and asking questions.

Can we all be philosophers?

Yes of course – it doesn’t even require any expensive equipment! We all stumble across philosophical problems at one time or another: Is there a God? Should we eat meat? What is life for? What comes after death? Is it sometimes all right to lie? How should we deal with this or that ethical dilemma? Some of these problems are inescapable, so the only question is whether we deal with them well or badly. Sadly, many people deal with dilemmas on the basis of emotional responses, tradition, or peer pressure rather than reasoned argument. As Bertrand Russell said, 'Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do.'"


Despite the simplicity of the above entry, there are aspects that clearly illustrate the purpose behind Wittgenstein's philosophical method. It has been written before, "Don't Think! Look!" which takes on a different quality here. Wittgenstein repeatedly urged his reader to look at how phenomenon was applied rather than explain or judge based upon expectations. For instance, one should assess religion by examining the various practices of religion rather drawing judgements based on a pre-established criteria, such as the scientific probability of the religions claims. Similarly, one should prepared to change perspectives if evidence comes to substantial alter one's expectations. By applying such a presumption, one fails to see what the practice of religion may offer individuals in a particular form of life.