Re: The Right Path Toward Reading
- Subject: Re: The Right Path Toward Reading
- From: Art Burke <aburke@VANSD.ORG>
- Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 08:23:43 -0800
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
The NRP said they identified 100,000 studies of reading published since 1966 and a bunch more published before then. To get anywhere at all they had to winnow that mass down to a manageable number. Their selection decisions are open to criticism (particularly coming from those whose studies were not selected, or from those whose favorite studies were not selected.) We've seen people argue in here that the selection rules were deliberately biased against "whole language" studies to reflect the political and intellectual biases of the study directors and the study sponsors.
I think the point-counterpoint about "phonics vs whole language" or the integirty or bias of the NRP misses the essential educational point: What can be the state of our knowledge about reading, and about our methods for studying reading, reporting the results, and incorporating results into practice if we need 100,000 + studies? How could anyone know what to trust?
The NRP made deliberately restrictive choices on underlying theory. investigative methodologies, and interpretive frameworks. Since there is so much contention about all of those, people are going to argue about this stuff until the cows come home.
>>> learn@JPS.NET 03/24 10:41 PM >>>
When a lie is repeated loudly enough and often enough it is generally
accepted as true. That is what has happened with the claim that the
National Reading Panel scientifically established the need for intensive,
systematic phonics instruction for all children.
Most of those who repeat this claim are blissfully unaware that it goes far
beyond the conclusions developed in the NRP report itself.
They are equally unaware that (despite its official-sounding name) the
National Reading Panel was not an assembly of top reading researchers or of
impartial scientists whose intent was to fairly summarize the state of
reading research. That description would better fit the Snow committee,
which prepared the National Research Council report on Preventing Reading
Difficulties in Young Children--a report which, while noting the value of
phonics instruction for many children, was supportive of Whole Language
Sometimes scholars fall into the trap of wanting so badly for something to
be true that they ignore contrary evidence. The ethos of science works
against this tendency by insisting that every claim must be subject to
independent verification and replication. By this standard, there's not as
much science in "scientifically-based" reading methodology as its advocates
Although he is neither a reading teacher nor a reading researcher, George
K. Cunningham has had a great deal to say about phonics and whole language.
His descriptions of whole language are caricatures, unrecognizable to
practitioners. His understanding of phonics instruction and phonics
research is equally shallow. If he had been willing to study the materials
recommended on this list, he would better understand both phonics and whole
language and would abandon the silly effort to dichotomize them.
If the message below is (as promised) his last comment on the topic of
reading instruction, in the future we may benefit from his posting about
subjects on which he has more detailed information.
At 10:48 PM 3/24/2002 -0500, George K. Cunningham wrote:
>Perhaps, few on this list wants to face it, but the debate is over. It is
>a non-issue, which was resolved against whole language. That is the
>import of the various studies and reviews of literature that have
>concluded that many students must actually be taught to read and that this
>instruction must include helping students recognize the relationship
>between letters and sounds. You can malign these studies as much as you
>want but no one is listening, they have moved on. The term whole language
>is headed for the same fate as "outcomes based education."
Rita Mae Brown wrote, "The reward for conformity was that everyone liked
you except yourself."
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