Friday, January 31, 2020

‘When Science and Literacy Collide’ by Mark W.F. Condon

Here are some extracts from the article'When Science and Literacy collide'

I share this slightly wonkish topic here to offer some essential perspective to assertions in the press that teachers aren’t using the science of literacy research in their instructional decisions. That’s of interest mostly because the disappointing end-of-year test scores of reading proficiency have stagnated for 20 years.

For how many more years are we going to dupe the world with the same stuff that has been repeated for years?

What is the ‘science of literacy research’? What does it say about how to teach letter sounds?

I am now convinced that educators don’t know that kids are confused by the way letter sounds are taught. I will do a YouTube Video tomorrow and post it here to get this confusion cleared.

Well, this could be a healthy discussion with active debate, but as one of the conference presenters suggested, citing scientific research to “settle” how things should be done tends to end discussions, rather than engender them.

If you teach children the correct sounds of the letters of the alphabet, then illiteracy will reduce. That is what I say after teaching so-called dyslexic kids over 15 years. That is what I have said since 2010 when I first started blogging. PLEASE read one of my first posts on 17.2.2010

Any and all comments/questions on the post above will be responded to. 

I have not cited any scientific research. Is there any scientific research on how letter sounds should not be taught? Do we need scientific research to state that consonants should not be taught with extraneous sounds?

Why should comments like mine end discussions? Tell me if my findings are wrong.  Tell me if consonants should or should not be taught with extraneous sounds. Then we can have a discussion and reduce illiteracy.

CITE-ITEL is constantly expanding its collection of credible, current and historical
contributions to knowledge about literacy teaching. Yet despite it all, none of this
best information can prescribe how to teach individual kids in a class of children
from diverse backgrounds, cultures and language communities.

Hello, teach all children the correct sounds of letters of the alphabet and immediately the number of kids shutting down from learning to read will reduce. It is a fact that initial input into the minds of children is paramount. Stop feeding them poison (wrong sounds of alphabets) and then ‘curing’ them with intervention.

My classmates were from diverse backgrounds, cultures and language communities and yet we all learned to read in English because teachers taught us the correct sounds of letters of the alphabet.
Together with the English language we also spoke another two languages. Those who went to vernacular schools could read and write in 3 languages.

Knowledge of excellent research guides teachers to take sensible steps in teaching
reading based upon reliable data, not just the opinions of one loud group or another.
Well-designed and conducted research can only suggest promising possibilities to the teacher working with a particular child or unique group. They put that together with their knowledge about their children to plan their work.

To teach kids the correct sounds of letters is not an opinion, it is a statement of facts.

Where are the ‘excellent research guides’ based upon ‘reliable data’ to teach correct sounds of letters of the alphabet?

Here are some of my comments and responses of Mark.

Luqman Michel: How does one work it? Why is the reading standard still going down in the US?
I just finished writing a lengthy comment on your site and as in other sites it said 'Awaiting moderation'.

I gave up commenting on most sites as my comments disappear into thin air.
Mark, I hope you allow my comment and then ask me any questions about what I have written.

Mark W.F Condon: Well, my comment was about the misuse of isolating single studies and basing instructional decisions upon that kind of limited evidence. Good science is about considering all pertinent studies and acting on the CURRENT best interpretation, which can change with the next published study. So, it has to be an ongoing pattern of study, reflection and application. The current pattern about using the studies about the simple view of reading, or a single BEST way to teach anything to EVERYBODY which are supported by only a few studies that are treated like eternal truth. It's lazy scholarship and lazier curriculum and instruction.

Luqman Michel: How many researchers do you have who have taught so-called dyslexic kids over 15 years on a one on one basis in 2 other languages using the same letters as does English?

If one person says something that is logical is it not enough for the Western world where most speak only English to do research on that one person's findings?

Mark W.F Condon: I don't HAVE researchers. I read research from appropriate refereed journals... And Researching ideas is always a good idea. Generalizing focused research to entire schools or populations is where we make our mistakes. 

My comments now:

Where did I mention anything about “a single BEST way to teach anything to EVERYBODY”?
What I said was that letter sounds should be taught the correct way throughout the world and illiteracy will reduce. Do we need research to prove this? How stupid can we get?

For how many more years is the Western world going to dupe parents into believing such words as “Good science is about considering all pertinent studies…”. Are we saying that we have been studying how to teach kids to read for more than 50 years and still have been unsuccessful? 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
 Is this not what the Western world is doing? They teach letter sounds wrongly and then put the blame on phonics.

The following is Mark's response to my comment dated 27.12.2019 on his website.

Mark Condon January 24, 2020 at 11:47 am #
Hi Luqman!
I’m all for teaching phonics “right.” I’m for teaching everything RIGHT. However, “right” for any particular child can have many differences from right for another.
I love your reference to kids getting confused. Smart kids look for help for a while and then eventually just give up and move on to things that make sense. Phonics must be taught in ways that make sense to the children (or to others new to reading).

My comment now: I believe Mark is all for teaching phonics ‘right’ but as most educators, he does not know why I say it is being taught wrong. Listen to my YouTube video tomorrow and then please share it with your contacts.

I disagree with Mark in that a majority of smart kids once disengaged shut down from learning to read as it is illogical to them. Many kids get back to grade-level after a short period of intervention. The rest, mostly from poor families, who cannot afford any kind of intervention are then classified as dyslexic. The reason quoted by ‘scientists’ is that they are unable to read because of poverty and environment. All those who read such statements quote it as if it is the Gospel truth. Poverty is not the cause. 

Note: Mark is the Vice President at Unite for Literacy. A teacher and teacher educator for over 45 years, supporting professionals and volunteers to teach anyone to read and write and to choose to read, inquire and create throughout their lives – as stated in his profile.

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