Saturday, May 16, 2020

Reading is unnatural

Here are extracts from Children of the Code published about 20 years ago.Let us bear in mind that the interviewer is Dr. David Boulton.

Dr.G.Reid Lyon
Number one, we know that reading is complex. And most people give it short shrift as I did when I was a third grade teacher. I just took it for granted. It’s one of the most complex, unnatural cognitive interactions that brain and environment have to coalesce together to produce. (G. Reid Lyon, Past- Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, National Institutes of Health)

Dr.Zvia Breznitz said:

Let me say that the human brain has existed about 60,000 years as such. Yes, but no system was devoted alongside the evolution of language to reading. So, basically I think that the reading activity needed to develop its own kind of system and develop the abilities like a muscle. The brain is a muscle. If you don’t develop it appropriately, you’ll get up to 80% of Americans that can’t read. Or here in Israel, or with the Ehiopians who also can’t read right. ( Zvia Breznitz, Director, Laboratory for Neurocognitive Research, University of Haifa)

Anne Cunningham, Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education with the Graduate School of Education at the University of California-Berkeley has said:

Reading is an unnatural act that we have to lead young children through in a very detailed and systematic way. As one colleague said, why would we leave a little seven year old to discover what took us thousands of years to discover as a human being?

James Wendorf, Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities. 

Reading is not natural. Speaking, language, oral language is natural. What does a baby do when it’s born? It cries. It’s natural. But reading has to be learned and has to be taught. It is not a natural activity. It is a difficult activity for a significant percentage of children.

I believe the Anglo world is using this as an excuse for the millions of kids who are unable to read at grade level.

If man can learn to drive and go to the moon, both of which are unnatural, surely he can be taught to read. 

If reading is unnatural should we not look at how kids are able to read in Malay, Tamil and many other languages rather than looking for excuses to support the bad teaching of English.

Why is it difficult for the Anglo world to accept that the main problem is in teaching kids the wrong pronunciation of phonemes that is the basic problem?

Here is a website that boasts of a kid who learned to read 1000 Chinese characters by the age of 5. I know of a woman, with a son who cannot read, who said that Chinese is Logographic and thus is different but if reading is unnatural then it is unnatural regardless of the writing system. 

Between the ages of 2.5 to 5 years, my third-generation American daughter learned over 1000 Chinese characters while I learned to speak and read Chinese with her.

To escape reality one can get Addicted to many things
                              including finding excuses in what past educators have said.

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