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Why Are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?

Why Are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way? by Emily Hanford (nytimes.com)
Teacher preparation programs continue to ignore the sound science behind how people become readers.
Emily Hanford in The NY Times. All annotations in context. This story has been bubbling up in the reading/literacy community over the last couple of months.

This article is based on earlier work titled “Hard Words: Why Aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read?” I’ve only included a couple pull quotes in this piece that appear to be different. Read my earlier review for the whole story.

It’s a problem that has been hiding in plain sight for decades. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than six in 10 fourth graders aren’t proficient readers. It has been this way since testing began. A third of kids can’t read at a basic level.

How do we know that a big part of the problem is how children are being taught? Because reading researchers have done studies in classrooms and clinics, and they’ve shown over and over that virtually all kids can learn to read — if they’re taught with approaches that use what scientists have discovered about how the brain does the work of reading. But many teachers don’t know this science.

while learning to talk is a natural process that occurs when children are surrounded by spoken language, learning to read is not. To become readers, kids need to learn how the words they know how to say connect to print on the page. They need explicit, systematic phonics instruction. There are hundreds of studies that back this up.

These ideas are rooted in beliefs about reading that were once commonly called “whole language” and that gained a lot of traction in the 1980s. Whole-language proponents dismissed the need for phonics. Reading is “the most natural activity in the world,” Frank Smith, one of the intellectual leaders of the whole-language movement, wrote. It “is only through reading that children learn to read. Trying to teach children to read by teaching them the sounds of letters is literally a meaningless activity.”

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