The New Meaning of Text

Today will come to be seen as a landmark in the history of Scottish education, with  the publication of the new Curriculum for Excellence frameworks in the eight curriculum areas of expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages, mathematics, religious and moral education, sciences, social studies and technologies. The revised curriculum has a clearly stated purpose – to ensure that all the children and young people of Scotland develop the attributes, knowledge and skills they will need if they are to flourish in life, learning and work, now and in the future – which is further encapsulated in the four “capacities”, providing learning and teaching opportunities which will enable young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. A key difference in the new curriculum is that it is described in terms of outcomes or “I can………..” statements rather than inputs or content, which is how curricula have traditionally been defined (NB this is not the same as saying that content is not important!) thereby shifting the emphasis and the main responsibility for learning to the learner, which is exactly where it belongs. 

Having been involved in the early stages of drafting the framework for Literacy and English, I am delighted to see the formal recognition, alongside books, of non-print texts including film, and the word “watching” given equal status with “listening” and “talking”. The full definition of “text” appears as follows;-

“A text is the medium through which ideas, experiences, opinions and information can be communicated.”

The document helpfully offers a range of possible texts for use in the classroom, and I think it would be a good idea for any teacher responsible for the development of literacy to have a graphic reminder of all the options avaialable, so that when planning a series of lessons or a course of work, a reasonable balance can be achieved over the week, or the term, or the academic session. I have presented these in the form of a Wordle, which could easily be enlarged and printed as a poster to put up on the wall of your classroom as a reminder to you and your students.


The Meaning of Text