This post refers to reading education and not math, but I do wish the math warriors would learn from us reading warriors, so that we do not have to be at this for the next 150+ years.
Re: Challenge to Haim Posted: May 28, 2010 1:47 PM by Robert
>>"I do not in ANY way refer to an inability to learn, only to an inability to teach."
>>>Well, then 90% of the population is unable to learn how to teach.
Whole word or phonics, the ability lies entirely with the student. It is no wonder that when you remove "ability" as a factor that the masses keep bouncing between whole word and phonics as the nirvana of reading. Put "ability" back into the equation and presto, now it makes sense. Albeit, it doesn't fit aggendas very well.
In Florida as in many states, they require even the disabled learners to take the FCAT. Less than 10% actually pass by 12th grade. And I know for a fact how much effort those teachers expended on those kids. I am not sure what you mean by "failure to teach". How much can we ask of a teacher? >>>
That is what I am saying, Robert. 90% (at least) of teachers do not know how to teach reading. Some children develop reading skills no matter how they are taught, but even those children are missing important information that would develop their language skill further. For those who need excellence in teaching in order to read at all, it is an unmitigated disaster with far-reaching consequences for our society. [See footnote***]
This inability-to-teach phenomenon is something we will see in math, are beginning to see, as generations pass, as children poorly educated today grow up to become the teachers of tomorrow, in an ever-worsening progression. In reading, we have already had such a long history of failure that very few people are left who know how to teach reading. (This is why organizations such as the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners is so important - an organization that strives to keep the teaching of reading pure and limited to what works. I suppose even it will fall to political pressure eventually.)
Louisa Moats once tested the knowledge of teachers, only the most basic knowledge elementary teachers must know in order to teach reading such that all children can learn. The results were sobering. The questions Dr. Moats asked are so basic that my 2nd and 3rd grade students can answer them all with ease, yet almost all teachers cannot. ________________________ http://www.springerlink.com/content/9510lx8j4572588w/
Louisa Cook Moats1
(1) The Greenwood Institute, Putney, Vermont (2) P.O. Box 253, 05043 East Thetford, VT
Abstract Reading research supports the necessity for directly teaching concepts about linguistic structure to beginning readers and to students with reading and spelling difficulties. In this study, experienced teachers of reading, language arts, and special education were tested to determine if they have the requisite awareness of language elements (e.g., phonemes, morphemes) and of how these elements are represented in writing (e.g., knowledge of sound-symbol correspondences). The results were surprisingly poor, indicating that even motivated and experienced teachers typically understand too little about spoken and written language structure to be able to provide sufficient instruction in these areas. The utility of language structure knowledge for instructional planning, for assessment of student progress, and for remediation of literacy problems is discussed.
The teachers participating in the study subsequently took a course focusing on phonemic awareness training, spoken-written language relationships, and careful analysis of spelling and reading behavior in children. At the end of the course, the teachers judged this information to be essential for teaching and advised that it become a prerequisite for certification. Recommendations for requirements and content of teacher education programs are presented. _______________________
As the penultimate sentence indicates, the blame does not lie with the teachers. One would not see such widespread failure if this were the fault of individual teachers, most of whom are caring, hard-working, intelligent people, most of whom are profoundly grateful for knowledge that truly helps them do their job well. What I teach is not something one can figure out on one's own. [See Moats "Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science" http://www.aft.org/pdfs/teachers/rocketscience0304.pdf ] I am now able to seek out the knowledge I need, always learning, but at first I had no idea what to look for, where to begin. One cannot know what one does not know.
In the early 1800s, teachers of early reading were called abecedarians and they devoted 6 months to the teaching of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Samuel Worcester first began promoting the whole word method in 1828 in his Primer of the English Language. John Russell Webb continued in The New Word Method in 1846. By the 1870s and 1880s, the whole word method, without heed to the alphabet, was pervasive, as it continues to be today (under various guises - a thorn by any other name still harms, to twist Juliet's words).
In the early 1900s, Anna Gillingham (the Gillingham of Orton-Gillingham, who created the most successful approach to training teachers of reading), an impressive woman in any generation, studying the classics, philosophy, German, mathematics, psychology, and neurology, obtaining two bachelor's degrees and a Master's degree, thwarted in her pursuit of a Ph.D. when Columbia would not allow her dissertation (because of her gender?), she was principal of an experimental elementary school for very high IQ children, part of the Ethical Culture School in New York. It was an open air classroom, literally, housed on the rooftop of the school, in keeping with Teddy Roosevelt's mania for fresh air that was sweeping the country at the time. (When the inkwells froze, they brought the children inside.)
While working with these high IQ children, Anna noticed a "baffling difficulty" in reading and spelling, a difficulty that was first described in the literature in the late 1800s and termed "word blindness". (It is not mere coincidence that this coincides with the rise of the whole word method.) And, thus, Orton-Gillingham was born (Dr. Samuel Orton was a neurologist with whom Gillingham consulted as she worked with children, who was at the time a leading researcher in neurological causes of reading failure and who was to supervise her dissertation. Gillingham writes that she organized her "remedial techniques in reading and spelling in conformity with Dr. Orton's neurological explanation.")
Gillingham was no abecedarian, although she understood the important contribution of the Phoenicians. It takes years of intensive study to master her approach. One reason it has remained pure over 70 some years is because Gillingham refused to publish her manuals. They were written as texts only for those studying with her, a practice that continues today. (My instructor has a direct line back to Gillingham, and only a couple of generations removed.) This presents a bit of a conundrum - how to widely disseminate this information to teachers without it becoming adulterated and thereby useless. There are many who claim to use O-G, but what they do is only loosely related, and consequently not effective.
I think the solution is to teach our teachers the basics of phonemic awareness, phonics, orthographic patterns, syllabification, morphemes, grammar, all the fundamental concepts of Gillingham's program, which are fundamental concepts of our language and therefore free for the taking, while still keeping her work pure for those children who most need it, such that only those who undertake the appropriate training can say they are using the Orton-Gillingham approach. Importantly, and this is true for every subject, we need to teach our teachers how to develop their own curriculum. It is the key to the success of the O-G approach, which never seems to work as well when it is "canned", such as Wilson, Slingerland, Barton, and others who have tried to create an O-G curriculum for teachers to follow. If you doubt it, think for a minute how much teachers of mathematics would learn if they had to create not only all lesson plans but all of the exercises and word problems for their students.
Note -- O-G is specifically designed for those with dyslexia, addresses their unique needs, but all the concepts I have learned and that I teach, I would have appreciated and benefitted from when I was child, even though I was a child who learned to read quite naturally and prior to entering school. In other words, O-G is founded on concepts that are suitable and beneficial to all children, that would improve the facility with language of all children. Few teachers know these concepts, as Louisa Moats study suggests, and consequently we have widespread reading failure in our country.
Robert won't believe me, and I have no way to prove it to him, but the disabled students he speaks of, with a 10% passing rate, are my students. Except that when they are my students, they all, 100% of them, pass state testing, often in the "exceeding expectations" category.
According to the U.S. Department of Education more than 60% of K-12 school children are reading below the level needed to proficiently process the written materials used in their grade levels - reading below the level necessary for the brain-work of reading to be transparent to the mind-work of learning from what they are reading. Obviously, reading is the skill that matters most to success in school and children who fall behind in reading are in great academic danger. However, it is not just the lack of reading skills that most endangers these children. It's the mind-shame.
None of us like to engage in activities that cause us to feel ashamed of ourselves. So what happens to children who feel ashamed of themselves when learning to read? They are in serious danger. The shame they feel not only motivates them to avoid reading, it also fosters self-disesteem and undermines the cognitive capacities they need to learn to read in the first place. Millions of children are caught in this learning-disabling downward spiral. Not only are they in danger of being improficient readers, which is learning disabling with respect to educational content access, they are also in danger of developing aversions to other learning situations that trigger similar shameful feelings. Such mind-shame is learning disabling and it can have a very powerful effect on how children learn their way into adulthood.
David Boulton: This plays right into the National Institute for Literacy?s upcoming report on the state of adult literacy and the strong correlations between the patterns that we see at the NAEP level and how they seem to play out in adult society. That high percentages of inmates in prison are people of color and people that can?t read, and similarly in welfare and health care. There?s such a strong correlation between literacy and all these other social pathologies.
Dr. Timothy Shanahan: How aware you are of what?s going on in your society is correlated with it. How often you vote, whether you?re registered to vote ? that?s connected to literacy. Whether you?re working, what level job you?re working in, your likelihood of getting employed ? all those are connected. Not all low literacy people commit crime, but it does appear that the largest percentage of people who commit crime are of low literacy. Every social pathology appears to be related to literacy attainment. Every good that we distribute in our society seems to be related to it. Literacy is a great enabler.