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April 21, 2003

ULM Professor Brings New Knowledge from Oxford

Dr. Peggie Jelks, Associate Professor in Instructional Leadership and Counseling at The University of Louisiana at Monroe, has recently returned from Oxford, England, after participating in Oxford Round Table at Manchester College.

Jelks was one of only 35 Early Childhood Educators in the United States invited to the prestigious Oxford Round Table. Participants were invited for their potential to make significant contributions to the Round Table discussions and were identified through several screening processes. The Oxford Round Table provides a forum for the study and consideration of current issues facing state and national systems of education and to consider major issues in contemporary education policy in the United States, the United Kingdom and other selected countries.

The week-long Round Table session included such topics as early literacy instruction: research and practice; early literacy: connecting assessment and instruction; the learning link: literacy skills and the fine arts; and administration and supervision solutions: emergent literacy program. Participants were invited to submit papers to be discussed. Jelks was selected as Lead Panelist for the presentation "American English Literacy Research Among 3-6 Year Olds."

One highlight of the experience for Jelks was a visit to Grandpont Nursery School, a day care program and a primary school. Jelks said, "These were public facilities in which the curriculums were centered around developmentally appropriate practices that enhances the whole child. In other words, these programs are more child-oriented, unlike the U. S. systems, which are test-score driven. In these programs one could literally 'see' the children absorbing valuable lessons."

Jelks points out other highlights, including several guest speakers providing insight into the educational system in Scotland and Oxfordshire County, which are two very different public primary school settings. Although early childhood was the main focus, participants were provided a brief glimpse into the university system of Oxford.

Jelks also said the Oxford system, which started teaching in the 1190's, is drastically different from what the U.S. views the university as being. "It's not a grouping of identifiable buildings, but spread out over the entire city with each 'college' a separate entity under the Oxford umbrella, and there are 39 such colleges. When asked, 'Where is the University?' the answer to this is, 'Nowhere and everywhere.' The class structure is vastly different in that there are no scheduled classes that students attend. Each student's work is individualized and independent."

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