Hard reporting: Why reading went under the radar for so long – and what one reporter is aiming to do about it

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ALEXANDER RUSSO (@alexanderrusso) is editor of The Grade.

5 comments

  • Ellen

    Teachers don’t learn class room management either. And probably lots of other things. They are too busy filling out forms, trying some new kookie curriculum, etc. Anything but teaching. I speak both as an old former teacher and as a parent.

    No one taught me to read – I was reading before I started school. I don’t know why that is either. Two of my children did the same, one could read, but not well, when school started.

  • Hello Alexander Russo,
    The reading war will go one for a few more decades because teachers, scientists and reporters are barking up the wrong tree.
    Reporters just publish articles to do their work. Are they really interested in knowing why kids cannot read despite all the policies being introduced?
    I wrote to Emily Hanford and to APM and they never bothered to respond.
    I know why many kids cannot read in English and yet can read in other languages using the same alphabets as does English.
    Would you like to listen to what I have to say?
    Email me, and we can discuss.

  • Pat Stone

    Whatever method is used, you have to keep going until the child(ren) can read as well as you’ve decided they should. The reason some children don’t learn to read well is that they are not taught for long enough. School decides they will be taught until such and such a date and then stop, whether they can read well or not. For those who do not read well enough by that date, either the teacher or the method or both will be blamed.
    Let’s give children a limited number of swimming lessons and then throw everyone in the deep end. Many will be fine. Many will not.
    Nope!
    A major reason phonics seems to be the answer to all our prayers is that it seems to offer a quick fix. It is similar to learning the alphabet song – even toddlers can do that – it seems miraculous that little kids can rote learn items and feed them back.
    But, in England at any rate, when cohorts are assessed and tested on the entirety of what reading is, including attention to understanding of meaning, prosody, syntax, ‘comprehension’ and desire to read when they don’t have to, those taught mainly or solely by phonics at 3, 4, 5 and 6 are no better off and are sometimes worse off at 7 and 11 than others who are not.
    Teaching reading is a matter of carrying on teaching until every child can do it – simple as that. Teaching everyone to read well involves the entire system responding to each individual child, not forcing every child to learn with a method and in a timescale that ‘research’ wants to dictate.
    Put the expertise – likewise the money – into the teachers, not the materials.

  • Dennis Ashendorf

    Besides the use of the word “balanced,” there may be another reason, science/phonics lost: does teaching phonics help high-SES MORE than low-SES students. This isn’t a silly question, but one that hangs over every professor since the Sesame Street research of the early 1980s.

    There was an achievement gap that Sesame Street addressed: African-American students improved when Sesame Street was introduced. The ‘problem’ was that Anglos improved more. The result has vexed “equity” researchers for 40 years now, where closing the achievement gap by LOWERING the top bar is a stated goal. I’ve heard it said several times.

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