Highcliffe Learning Hub

Matthew I- Raising Literacy (Blog 1 of 3)

Posted 01/11/2017 09:20:26 by hglyde

There's nothing like getting your teaching day underway with a quote from the Bible. Here's one from Matthew 13:12 that is particularly pertinent to the work we do:

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

The paradoxical meaning of this statement has given its name to a phenomenon dubbed the Matthew Effect¯.

In the field of education, the Matthew Effect manifests itself in the following way: the more knowledge a child has, the more they learn; the more they learn, the more able they are to acquire new knowledge and so on, in a constantly upward spiralling virtuous circle. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: The less knowledge you have, the less you learn; the less you learn, the less able you are to access new knowledge a and so on, this time in a vicious circle, spiralling irretrievably downwards.

The Matthew Effect doesn't just apply to students knowledge. It applies to vocabulary too: The more vocabulary that a child acquires when they are younger, the better able they are to access more difficult texts. The better able they are to access more difficult texts, the more sophisticated vocabulary they acquire;' And so on in that same virtuous circle all the way to good A Level grades and beyond.1

Not surprisingly, the opposite is also true.

So what does this mean?

This means that for a student bought up in a word-rich environment, he not only hath, but will go on to exponentially receive in abundance.
This For a child bought up in word-poor environment, he not only hath not, but further opportunities for development will be diminished.

In our next blog we will explore the question  “How can we address this? What can we do to improve our students vocabulary?”





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