Should the Whole Language Umbrella change our name?

Should the Whole Language Umbrella change our name?
At this past NCTE convention in Chicago, several WLU members brought up the enduring question, "Should the Whole Language Umbrella change our name?"

Indeed, an informal poll conducted at the WLU booth at the NCTE exhibition hall, several visitors to the booth weighed in on this question. It seems that many educators have forgotten what Whole Language is, or feel that Whole Language is a term that has aged.

True, not many educators now talk about learning in terms of the "whole." Yet, the "whole" is at the heart of WLU pedagogy, whether our pedagogy focuses on teaching reading, reading and writing with a social justice orientation, or multimodal literacies.

Our globalized, information age brings up new questions about language. And these questions influence how we think about teaching and learning. Language use in today's world begs new questions. We question what should be taught in schools today to prepare students for an unknown tomorrow.

What is a fitting name for an organization which has always focused on the "whole" in education. An organization which has taken up new perspectives on language and learning in response to a changing world.
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Comments

 
Lucy Spence August 11, 2012 9:08 am
Original Message:
Sent: 08-10-2012 15:54
From: Sandra Wilde
Subject: Response to blog post on name change
I didn't see a way to post a comment on the blog, so I'm posting here.
I've been around whole language since the old days. I was in graduate school with the Goodmans right around the time the term first began being used. I seem to remember that when I arrived in 1981, people were still using the term "psycholinguistic approach" but not really happy with it.
But I believe it's time for a change. The term is no longer in use in the field generally or part of the conversation outside of a small group. The principles, and the people using them, are still the same, though of course with growth and change over time. The term I use mentally a lot for the entire tradition is "progressive approaches to literacy," which encompasses the larger history that people have been part of for a long time.
Unfortunately, the term "whole language" was tarred in the 1990's by a politicized media blitz about phonics vs. whole language (a totally false framing, of course), with the general public ending up thinking "phonics won." The battle itself was so long ago that younger teachers aren't even aware of it.
"Literacies for All" is a great, representative term that has a track record from the annual conferences. I think this name change would be great.
Sandra Wilde
Hunter College, New York
Lucy Spence July 29, 2012 12:40 pm
Janice, at the delegates assembly on Saturday of the Literacies for All Summer Institute in St. Louis, a motion was made that we change the name of the organization from Whole Language Umbrella to Literacies for All. There was a second. The next step is to have transparent discussions and to spend a year thinking about it before voting on the motion at next year's delegates assembly at the Literacies for All Summer Institute in New York. The delegates assembly is open to everyone and all current members of WLU or TAWL groups can vote at that time. The time and place for the delegates assembly will be listed in the Summer Institute Program.
Janice Spohn July 16, 2012 12:11 pm
so what follows this? I hope WLU has some transparency in this conversaton and posts the brainstorming in a place that is accessible - (suggest here)
Rita Moore December 27, 2011 3:35 pm
While I believe completely in the whole language philosophy, I was struck by the number of young teachers (and seasoned) visiting our booth at NCTE who thought we were "selling something." Not one of them had heard of "whole language" but when I showed them our list of beliefs and explained our mission, they were enthusiastic...especially those who were ELL teachers! A number of them encouraged us to change our name to something that would attract teachers and administrators...help them understand us as a teacher focused organization. By stubbornly holding on to the nomenclature, do we eliminating us to a very closed rank? It's sort of like a title. Do you really care if someone calls you Dr. xxx or do you more care that you have helped that person reach out and make a difference in the lives of children. When they call you and tell you their stories about how they used what was "whole language" whether they knew it by that name or not, to make meaningful changes in the lives of children seems the most important to me. Those teachers who stopped at the booth when Vicki and I were there wanted to know more about us so making reinventing and reframing our name and ourselves might become our goal and mission. I respect and love the people who initiated whole language and changed my teaching life but I just don't think we'll get a groundswell of renewal unless we change the way we dress and address what we know is good practice. Someone said at the conference that "whole language" (the term) was so 90's and she's right. So why don't we take our place of honor in the history book and move on with currency today? -rita

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