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Ethical Considerations in Vocabulary Development in Children, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Vocabulary comprehension of school age students is a subject that has garnered a broad array of considerations and research that is beneficial for instuctors and school systems to pay attention to.  In terms of the ethical discussion of vocabulary devolopment, many variables are presented that should cause those in education to become more conscious as it relates to finding the right mix of strategies to teach students.  Some of the considerations are what the learning styles of the many students are, how do society and economics affect development, what will be the relevant dicussions and experiences for these students that will influence the way they use vocabulary, and many more.

One of the issues facing vocabulary comprehension for students was discussed in an article called Powerful and Purposeful Teaching and Learning in Elementary School Social Studies.  The Task Force on Early Childhood/ Elementary Studies and the   NCSS Board of Directors expressed that since the emergence of the “No Child Left Behind” policy, in which math and reading, ironically, were the sole litmus test of learning, the percentage of schools with lower than average passing scores on tests rose 51 percent in the nation.  The Task Force attributes this and lowered rates of literacy to the fact that social studies became less relevant to educators and school systems looking to use a national standard of education, instead of one based on the needs of their particular students.  Social studies remains necessary in education as it is the basis of understanding for children academically of where they fit into the world.  “In a world that demands independent and cooperative problem solving to address complex social, economic, ethical, and personal concerns, core social studies content is as basic for success as reading, writing, and computing.” (Bennet, Berson, Dobson).

Another ethical concern as it pertains to the development of vocabulary, or any other subject for education, is in standardized testing.  Because standardized tests are culturally influenced, the results of the tests of each student do not always accurately reflect a student’s ability or future capability to learn language, pronunciation or reading comprehension.  There often tend to be other external factors that play more of a role in the scores such as a child’s mood, health or level of rest at the time of testing.  “Standardized tests also are limited in informing teachers about individual children’s needs. They give teachers a score on a test and a percentile ranking that tells them only how this individual child stands in relation to the children in the norming group. This is not very useful in helping teachers plan to meet the needs of an individual child” (Seefeldt, Wasik).

There, also, is the ethical issue relating to the use of technology in developing vocabulary and literacy in children.  There are a great many programs, tools and resources online and on CD roms, that include video games and interactive movies, that are extremely valuable in the comprehension of language for children.  The questions then becomes, what constitutes too much exposure to the technological assistance for literacy?  Can online programs be used alone for the advancement of a child’s ability to comprehend letters and language?  Is it more beneficial to not allow children to learn reading skills from the internet and computer programs?  The truth is that an even balance of real life experience with words including books, signs, flashcards, and the practice of writing, coupled with technological innovations for reading comprehension is a potentially a great way to allow children to excel in reading.  The wave of the present and future in society is through technology and an inability to use and maneuver through constitutes a grave disantage to any student.  However, technology cannot overpower the necessary real life, tangible application of vocabulary and education of reading.  The Alliance for Children encourages educators to clarify that students are not to have a subservient role to computers and technology, but a proactive relationship in which they use the programs and resources when necessary, and not as a constant need.  “…they will be able to determine for themselves the appropriate place for computers and other technologies — from the most simple to the most advanced — in their deepening relationship with the world, rather than have that relationship defined by the technology” (Alliance for Children).

A major concern in the ethics of vocabulary and language understanding is the adequate funding of school systems and schools at large.  With low capital, educators cannot invest in the books, technology, programs and many of the other resources needed to develop and enhance the children’s ability to read, understand and express with efficiency.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children reviewed and expressed the broad difference in how pre-schools were once recognized and how they are now viewed.  It is now expected that pre-schools and daycares prepare children for elementary school, and one such way is through vocabulary comprehension, for literacy readiness.  However, these schools remain autonomous units that receive no mandated funding as a whole.  Oftentimes, based on the economic strength of the families that utilize the particular facilities, and that of the ownership, it is often problematic to capture the necessary capital to enact the appropriate programs and necessary tools and resources for which children can learn adequately from.  Once children are in elementary school, they may or may not be ready to learn according to the new curriculum.  Therefore, economics and funding is a very important discussion that educators and parents must begin having with one another in order to even the playing field for literacy development in children, despite the financial lack or abundance of their communities.

References

Bennet, N., Berson, I., Dobson, D., Task Force on Early Childhood/ Elementary Studies. Powerful and Purposeful Teaching and Learning in Elementary School Social Studies, 2009 National Council for Social Studies. http://www.ncss.org/positions/powerfulandpurposeful

Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8, 2009.  National Association for the of Young Children, Pg. 1-32.   

Hannon, P., Nutbrown, C. Children’s  Perspectives  on Family Literacy: Methodological Issues, Findings and Implications  for Practice, 2003.  Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Pg. 1-32.

Seefeldt, C. Wasik, B.A.  Issues in Early Childhood Education Assessments. Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall. http://www.education.com/reference/article/assessment-early-childhood-education-ECE/

Technology for Literacy: Four Guiding Principles for Educators and Parents, December 9, 1999. Alliance for Children. http://southerncrossreview.org/3/alliance.html

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