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robertogreco : phonics   6

Rethinking Learning to Read, by Harriet Pattison — A Book Review | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1056254550397485056 ]

"Parents in the sample drew on a diversity of approaches and practices when supporting their children in learning to read. Perhaps unsurprisingly parents’ views in the sample were heavily influenced by phonics. However what was significant was that not all families used phonics based methods, some were openly critical of it and some of the children did not respond well and resisted a phonics based approach. Families shared: “No phonics, no flash cards, no traditional teaching methods were used in our home – for reading or anything else” and “Phonics doesn’t suit every child – as a very strong visual learner my daughter finds the individual sounds in words meaningless ... she hears words as a single sound.”

Some families drew on whole word learning approaches, some an eclectic mix, while others acknowledged the limitations of using methods and a number preferred to use no methods at all because this is what they felt was the best approach for their particular child and that they would learn to read naturally by engaging in everyday life. “Living a life style of literacy”; “Living life in a world where words are everywhere” and “Given time and exposure children will learn to read and will enjoy it.”

Some children also developed their own methods which drew on word recognition, memorisation and guessing, or together with a parent they co-created a unique approach which suited them. It was apparent that what suited one child may not suit another and this included children within the same family, one parent said: “There is not a “one-size-fits-all” magic formula” and another family: “often requiring different resources to be available at different times rather than following a single ‘method’ throughout.”

Away from phonics families were actively and pragmatically choosing methods and approaches with the best fit for the child and they were using those methods in ways that were facilitative of their relationships, the child’s learning and their emotional well being. In taking this open and flexible approach families were placing the child at the centre of the learning experience. For example, a parent said “Go with what works for that particular child” and another “The method is not important; the important [thing] is that the child likes it.“

The sample was characterised by a diversity of accounts, there was no one singular approach that could be used to describe the theoretical positions adopted by this group of parents. In fact as a home educating parent and also as a researcher Pattison explains that it is not necessary for a parent to hold an understanding of what reading is or how reading happens for it is precisely this “not knowing”, questioning and flexible state of mind that enables a parent to be reflexive and responsive to their child, putting the relationship first and re-thinking what reading actually is."
howweread  reading  education  unschooling  phonics  pedagogy  2017  emmaforde  harrietpattison  children  language  deschooling  schooling  schools  homeschool 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms | Psychology Today
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1056258640028491776 ]

"So, we have this puzzle. Out of school, children learn to read by what appear to be whole-word, whole-language methods. They read right off for meaning and they learn to recognize whole words and read whole passages before they pay much attention to individual letters or sounds. Phonics comes later, based on inferences that may be conscious or unconscious. Learning to read out of school is in some ways like learning oral language; you learn it, including the rules, with little awareness that you are learning it and little awareness of the rules that underlie it. But that doesn’t work well for learning to read in school. Learning there is better if you master the rules (the rules relating letters to sounds) before attending much to meaning.

The mistake of the progressive educators, I think, has been to assume that the classroom is or can be a natural learning environment. It isn’t, and (except in unusual circumstances) it can’t be. The classroom is a setting where you have a rather large group of children, all about the same age, and a teacher whose primary tasks are to keep order and impart a curriculum—the same curriculum for everyone. In that setting, the teacher decides what to do, not the students. If students decided, they would all decide on different things and there would be chaos. No matter how liberal-minded the teacher is, real, prolonged self-direction and self-motivation is not possible in the classroom. In this setting, children must suppress their own interests, not follow them. While children out of school learn what and because they want to, children in school must learn or go through the motions of learning what the teacher wants them to learn in the way the teacher wants them to do it. The result is slow, tedious, shallow learning that is about procedure, not meaning, regardless of the teacher’s intent.

The classroom is all about training. Training is the process of getting reluctant organisms to do or learn what the trainer wants them to do or learn. Under those conditions, methods that focus on the mechanical processes underlying reading—the conversion of sights to sounds—work better than methods that attempt to promote reading through meaning, which requires that students care about the meaning, which requires that they be able to follow their own interests, which is not possible in the classroom."
petergray  reading  howwelearn  education  unschooling  deschooling  2013  training  schools  schooling  wholelanguage  phonics  learning  progressive  curriculum  pedagogy 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms | Psychology Today
"Researchers have conducted systematic case studies of precocious readers, through interviews of parents, and have compared them with other children to see if they are unique in any ways other than their early reading. The results of such studies, overall, support the following conclusions:[1,2]

• Precocious reading does not depend on unusually high IQ or any particular personality trait. Although some precocious readers have IQ scores in the gifted range, many others score about average. Personality tests likewise reveal no consistent differences between precocious readers and other children.

• Precocious reading is not strongly linked to social class. Some studies have found it to be as frequent in blue-collar as in white-collar families. However, it does seem to depend on growing up in a family where reading is a common and valued activity.

• Parents of precocious readers report that they or an older sibling often read to the child, but did not in any systematic way attempt to teach reading. In the typical case, the parents at some point discovered, to their surprise, that their child was reading, at least in a preliminary way, and then they fostered that reading by providing appropriate reading materials, answering the child’s questions about words, and in some cases pointing out the relationship between letters and sounds to help with unfamiliar words. In essentially no cases, however, did they provide anything like the systematic training in either phonics or word recognition that might occur in school.

In sum, precocious readers appear to be children who grow up in a literate home and, for some unknown reason (unlike even their siblings in the same home), develop an intense early interest in reading. Interest, not unusual brain development, is what distinguishes them from others. Because they are interested and strongly motivated, they use whatever cues are available to figure out the meanings of printed words and sentences, and, along the way, with or without help, consciously or unconsciously, they eventually infer the underlying phonetic code and use it to read new words. For them, reading for meaning comes first, before phonics. In the words of one set of researchers, “[The precocious readers] were not taught the prerequisite skills of reading such as phoneme-grapheme correspondence or letter-naming skills but, instead, learned to read familiar, meaningful sight vocabulary; the rules of reading were not explicitly taught but apparently inferred over time.”[1]

The fact that precocious readers learn to read relatively quickly, before they are four years old, with no evidence of stress and much evidence of pleasure, suggests that learning to read in this way is not very difficult when a person really wants to do it. Learning to read, for them, quite literally, is child's play.

How unschoolers and children in democratic or free schools learn to read

In a previous report (here), I presented a qualitative analysis of case histories of learning to read by children in unschooling families (who don’t send their children to school or teach a curriculum at home) and by children at the Sudbury Valley School (where students are in charge of their own education and there is no imposed curriculum or instruction). I won’t repeat that work in detail here, but, in brief, some of the main conclusions were these: (1) Children in these settings learn to read at a wide variety of ages; (2) at whatever age they learn, they learn quite quickly when they are truly motivated to do so; (3) attempts by parents to teach reading to unmotivated children generally fail and often seem to delay the child's interest in reading; and (4) being read to and engaging in meaningful ways with literary material with skilled readers (older children or adults) facilitates learning.

In sum, these children seem to learn to read in essentially the same ways that precocious readers learn, but at a wide variety of ages. They learn when and because they are interested in reading, and they use whatever information is available to help them, including information provided by people who already know how to read. They are not systematically taught, and the people who help them generally have no training or expertise in the teaching of reading.

The reading wars, and the failure of progressive methods of reading instruction in schools

We turn now from self-motivated children learning to read out of school to children who are taught in school, where the assumption is that they must learn to read at a certain age and in a certain way, whether they want to or not. In school, learning to read appears to be unnatural and difficult. It occurs at a snail’s pace, incrementally over several years, Even after three or four years of training many children are not fluent readers.

Progressive educators have always argued that learning to read should not be slow and tedious. They have argued for “whole-word” and “whole-language” methods of teaching reading, which, they claim, are more natural and pleasurable than phonics-first methods. Although the progressive educators commonly think of themselves as proposing something new, contrasted with “traditional education,” the progressive arguments actually go back at least to the origin of compulsory state schooling in America. Horace Mann, the first secretary of education in any state in the union, who oversaw the passage of the first state compulsory education law (in Massachusetts, in 1852), fought for the whole-word approach and railed against phonics. In the early 20th century John Dewey and progressive educators inspired by him were champions of holistic, reading-for-meaning approaches. Later, in the 1970s and ‘80s, Kenneth Goodman and Frank Smith took up the torch and promoted what they called the whole-language approach.

On the other side are those who have long argued that phonics is the key to reading and should be taught early and directly. Noah Webster, sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” was an early warrior in the phonics camp. In the late 18th century, he created the first series of books designed to teach reading and spelling in secular schools, and they were founded on phonics. In the mid 20th century, Rudolph Flesch turned the tide back toward phonics with his bestselling book, Why Johnny Can’t Read (1955). He argued convincingly that the progressive movement had produced a serious decline in reading ability in American schoolchildren because it ignored phonics. In the most recent two decades, the leading proponents of phonics include educational researchers who base their argument on experiments and data more than theory. Many carefully controlled experiments have by now been conducted to compare the reading scores of children taught by different methods in different classrooms, and the results of the great majority of them favor phonics.[3]

Because of their intensity and presumed importance, these debates about how to teach reading have long been dubbed “the Reading Wars.” Today, the majority (though not all) of the experts who have examined the data have declared that the wars are over—phonics has won. The data seem clear. Overall, children who are taught phonics from the beginning become better readers, sooner, than those who are taught by whole-word or whole-language methods. The learning is still slow and tedious, but not as slow and tedious for phonics learners as for those taught by other methods.

Why natural learning fails in classrooms

So, we have this puzzle. Out of school, children learn to read by what appear to be whole-word, whole-language methods. They read right off for meaning and they learn to recognize whole words and read whole passages before they pay much attention to individual letters or sounds. Phonics comes later, based on inferences that may be conscious or unconscious. Learning to read out of school is in some ways like learning oral language; you learn it, including the rules, with little awareness that you are learning it and little awareness of the rules that underlie it. But that doesn’t work well for learning to read in school. Learning there is better if you master the rules (the rules relating letters to sounds) before attending much to meaning. 

The mistake of the progressive educators, I think, has been to assume that the classroom is or can be a natural learning environment.  It isn’t, and (except in unusual circumstances) it can’t be. The classroom is a setting where you have a rather large group of children, all about the same age, and a teacher whose primary tasks are to keep order and impart a curriculum—the same curriculum for everyone. In that setting, the teacher decides what to do, not the students. If students decided, they would all decide on different things and there would be chaos. No matter how liberal-minded the teacher is, real, prolonged self-direction and self-motivation is not possible in the classroom. In this setting, children must suppress their own interests, not follow them. While children out of school learn what and because they want to, children in school must learn or go through the motions of learning what the teacher wants them to learn in the way the teacher wants them to do it. The result is slow, tedious, shallow learning that is about procedure, not meaning, regardless of the teacher’s intent.

The classroom is all about training. Training is the process of getting reluctant organisms to do or learn what the trainer wants them to do or learn. Under those conditions, methods that focus on the mechanical processes underlying reading—the conversion of sights to sounds—work better than methods that attempt to promote reading through meaning, which requires that students care about the meaning, which requires that they be able to follow their own interests, which is not possible in the classroom… [more]
education  reading  literacy  progressive  2016  petergray  children  teaching  learning  naturallearning  unschooling  schools  training  coercion  interests  emergentcurriculum  phonics  rules  wholelanguage  noahwebster  precociousreaders  precociousreading 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)


Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [http://stager.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kozol-Extreme-Ideas.pdf ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Most Shameful Response to an Apparent Crisis - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Reminder: the drive for a 40-hour week was a drive on behalf of democracy. When in crisis-mode, we generally jump onto sound bites uttered by personally convincing authorities. We use metaphors which help us understand complexity and then ignore the flaws inherent in our oversimplifications...
deborahmeier  education  schools  policy  us  crisis  phonics  teaching  statistics  leadership  management  history  politics  administration  rttt  accountability  cheating  injustice 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Main Page - Free-reading
"Free-Reading is an ongoing, collaborative, teacher-based, curriculum-sharing experiment. We're looking to provide a reliable forum where teachers can openly and freely share their successful and effective methods for teaching reading in grades K-1."
reading  instruction  activities  curriculum  books  free  kids  literacy  children  teaching  wiki  schools  opensource  phonics  elearning  ebooks  audio  lessons  spelling  education  preschool  elementary  english  writing 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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