[The blog — Barking Up the Wrong Tree — published 10 points parents can follow to help make kids "smarter" — http://time.com/12086/how-to-make-your-kids-smarter-10-steps-backed-by-science/ This was my comment ot our Canadian blog, Society for Quality Education.]
Can A Teacher Really UNTEACH Reading? Part I
Here we have someone whose niche in life seems to be digesting research papers and distilling the conclusions for application to daily living. This is his introduction:
“Hi, I'm Eric Barker, the guy behind the blog. Barking Up The Wrong Tree has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine. You can email me here — email@example.com
Yes, Eric, I’ll email you when I finish my essay and let me tell you at the start: You sent me on a merry chase — full of anguish and angst.
A favorite blog, Society for Quality Education, just featured your “10 things that would make your kids smarter” and I immediately glommed on to #3 — Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read WITH Them. I read the 7 pg article by the Canadian professors where you concluded that if parents were shown how to read intentionally to stimulate literacy, there would be lasting benefits. The experiment was with parents of low income and low education and the remarkable benefits did hold for three years after this program ended.
Simply put, the parents of 3-year olds were given 90 hrs of preparation in reading WITH, not TO their children and included 8 units over 3 mo and included such concepts as importance of play, counting, colors, and making letter-sound matches (decoding & phonological awareness). Very impressive results, but I did wonder if this knowledge got any further than this 2008 article? Haven’t heard of any follow-through. Perhaps, I cynically speculated, that such research is swallowed up by an education system, which self-interestedly withholds information such as this, which would intrude on their turf.
Then I was reminded of my own experience with my children. I remember so vividly being told NOT TO TEACH my children reading at home because teachers would simply have to UNTEACH and start over from scratch.
I think this research, which BTW is appropriately subtitled “Unlocking the Door” should get urgent attention and parents of all socio economic status should be encouraged to gain these literacy preparedness skills to help their children. I am very concerned about the figures relating to illiteracy and the pipeline to prison correlation. The schools can be doing much more to ensure all students by the end of Grade 3 acquire this fundamental skill. However, there is still to this day this resistance by the teaching profession against using phonics as one method to teach reading, especially to that number of students who do not thrive under the whole language approach.
This weekend in British Columbia we are having a two day conference of Primary School Teachers featuring a Whole Language specialist, Regie Routman, as keynote and workshop leader. 775 teachers are attending, yet I see nothing in their program that encourages me that they care about that percentage of students who need the decoding phonological approach to learn to read. People should really read what Alfie Kohn says about Whole Language and why he favors the “old-fashioned phonics.” http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/reading.htm
I’ve just read new reports from the US that show that phonics is definitely one strategy to be used. Here is some information about Oklahoma http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/03/47/10347.pdf
From pg 13 we see there is a dedicated READ program (Reading Enhancement and Acceleration Development) which includes “skill development in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension”.
Perhaps this brilliant Mr. Barker could dig up some research which illuminates why the teaching profession is so politically bound to withhold a teaching strategy that would help a good number of students with their reading acquisition ?
Can A Teacher Really UNTEACH Reading? Part II
While I’m still in my anguish and angst mode while unearthing disturbing contradictions in our Canadian school system, I note that there is acknowledgement in the US that Literacy is important. Here is an article from the Core Knowledge organization — New Leaders in Literacy http://blog.coreknowledge.org/2014/10/22/new-leaders-in-literacy/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheCoreKnowledgeBlog+%28The+Core+Knowledge+Blog%29
From the Early Learning Primer, October 2014 we read about the importance of Grade 3.
*** Why third-grade reading proficiency matters
The period between preschool and third grade is a tipping point in a child’s journey toward lifelong learning. During this time, children have to make a critical transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”
If children do not have proficient reading skills by third grade, their ability to progress through school and meet grade-level expectations diminishes significantly. While all areas of children’s learning and development are critical for school success, the predictive power of a child’s third-grade reading proficiency on high school graduation and dropout rates is startling:
– Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school on time.
– Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade and also live in poverty are 13 times less likely to graduate high school on time.
Society pays a high price for the nearly 1 million teenagers who drop out of high school every year through higher rates of unemployment, lower tax revenues and increased costs to the criminal justice, welfare and healthcare systems.
MY POINT AGAIN: Yes, parents should read WITH their children to help acquire literacy awareness. Don’t listen to teachers who say they will have to UNTEACH. And, if they’re not being taught reading in school, then, it is highly recommended that tutoring be privately bought otherwise life chances are seriously compromised without proper reading ability.
When we had our teacher strike in BC this September and parents were paid $40 a day to seek education elsewhere, many did send their kids to tutoring agencies. I think that parents who have to buy tutoring for the fundamental skill of reading for their child should be able to charge their school district for a rebate!