Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Confessions of a Teacher


The following is part of a comment on LinkedIn in a forum I am participating in.

 "I`m told that to be polite is important but when it harms innocent children and puts their teachers into further instructional confusion-it irritates me to no end......there is barely a whimper of "how to teach reading" in the early grades. The factory of labeling the victim is still in place, I think 99% of the problems are dysteachia brought on by outdated teacher licensing institutions!" (Jo-Anne Gross)


Since 2010 I have been saying that the majority of kids leaving school as illiterates are casualties of teaching. It starts in kindergarten where letter sounds/phonemes are taught wrongly.

The following is extracted from: The children of the Code interview.

This interview was given by Dr. G. Reid Lyon who is the former Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch within the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institute of Health (NIH). He was recruited into NICHD in 1991.

Reid Lyon:

    “I had to learn how to be a teacher, so I went back and took education courses and became certified as an elementary school teacher and as a special education teacher. Now, I say I took courses, but that is not to say that I learned anything. As a matter of fact, I had no idea what I was doing when I got into my third grade classroom other than calling the roll and recess”.


    “What struck me when I got in my third grade classroom was about thirty percent of these nine-year old's couldn’t read well at all, some not at all. I couldn’t understand that because reading to me was not laborious and I took it for granted. I think by the end of the year the thirty percent that I didn’t help had actually extended to about forty percent because I screwed another ten percent up. I just didn’t have any idea what I was doing.

    No one had ever talked to me about how reading develops and what you do when kids come to it differently”.


My comment: Has any researcher studied as to why "about thirty percent of these nine-year-olds couldn't read well at all"....? I'll bet that it is because these kids are disengaged students who as Malcolm Gladwell says "have been confused" by their teachers.


Reid Lyon

“I noticed a couple of things: How reading or the lack of reading development hurt them. I could see even with the nine-year-olds that when they were unable to read it seemed to me that, even if I had a magic bullet, they didn’t even want to try it. They had already started to avoid print and a lot of these kids would become active and look, in a sense, different and possibly would have been diagnosed as ADD. But their attentional difficulties were just simple avoidance. They would become distractable and fidgety when they had to read. Why? They wanted to get out of it. So, that affected me, both in my head and in my heart, to watch these tender kids who have to perform in the most visible academic thing called reading and not be able to do it”.


My comment: Most of us know the kids ‘attention difficulties and their avoidance’; It does not take Rocket Science to know that. However, did anyone try to find out why these kids avoid reading tasks?


               1)“I didn’t know what I was doing; 2) I needed to know what I was doing because my job was much more than learning how to read, it was the development of social and emotional competencies and all kind of things like that; 3) I also saw this tremendous impact on the kid’s self-awareness, self-concept and so forth”.


My comment: He is not the only one who didn’t know and probably still does not know what he is/was doing.

Reid Lyon

    “How in the world are some kids learning to read and others aren’t? That is, which of these skills and abilities and environments and instructional interactions and genetics and neurobiology is getting in the way? Which factors make it difficult for which kids?”


My comment: Has America which has sent man to the moon found an answer to this question? The 'others that are not learning' are those who are prone to shutting down. They are instructional casualties.

Recently I wrote to DR. Reid Lyon but unfortunately his wife, on his behalf said that they are travelling and therefore unable to correspond regarding this matter.


Reid Lyon

    “All of these kids that I had tried to teach and who didn’t do well had by nine years of age already begun to avoid the reading process because they couldn’t do it. So, my third question was, how can we prevent it? How can we prevent reading failure from ever raising its ugly and deleterious face with these kids? How can we identify kids at risk before they ever get to school, figure out what to do and bring them right up to snuff as they come into first grade?”

    “My own research program began back in the mid-70’s with the first two questions: 1) What does it take to learn to read? 2) What goes wrong when you don’t? Some of that work was informative, much of it was not. But I began to work with other groups of scientists who were studying these same questions, and along the way as my career moved forward, I was probably one of the few people in the country who had a specialization in neurobiology and developmental neuroscience and in education, if I can call the latter a specialization”.


My comment: This interview is more than 10 years old. Dr.G Reid has been doing this research for more than 40 years. The illiteracy rate in America remains the same. As such having sent man to the moon America is still groping in the dark as to how to prevent reading failure and figure out what to do to “bring these kids right up to snuff as they come into first grade”.

This reminds me of an idiom:


                              "There are none so blind as those who will not see".



The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.





1 comment:

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comment mark sehgal. I regret i did not see this comment earlier. Wish you well.