Saturday, June 6, 2020

"Dear Luqman I am not your on-call response service". Pamela Snow

Here is something I have written in a hurry as I find it difficult to Tweet where the words are limited.
Here are extracts of a blog post by Pamela Snow in August 2018.

The date is August 2018. The date is important as the title says 'on-call response service'.

‘..we need to talk about an unpalatable fact that you may not yet be aware of - the fact that too many children exit primary school with reading, writing, and spelling skills that are years below the level they will need to make the transition to secondary school and succeed academically and vocationally. I don’t know if you have spoken with any secondary teachers recently and asked them how satisfied they are with the reading, writing, and spelling skills of the Year 7 students they are enrolling? I have, and they are not happy.’

We’ve known for at least a couple of decades now that certain factors and approaches promote the successful transition to literacy in the early years of school. For reasons that are puzzling to the rest of us, though, a large number of education academics don’t seem willing, able and/or interested in engaging with this evidence. The problem is that this impacts on what you, as student teachers are taught about reading in your pre-service education. You might be interested to know that many teachers, even recent graduates, bemoan the fact that they learnt precious little (if anything at all) about teaching reading, and much of what they did learn was inaccurate, out-dated (even at the time), and unhelpful to the most vulnerable students they meet in their classrooms.

Did you know that learning to read is not “biologically natural”?
We don’t fully understand why (a combination of genes and environment no doubt) some children seem to quite seamlessly make the transition to literacy, almost irrespective of the type of reading instruction they receive.
I think teachers should be the most knowledge practitioners in schools about all aspects of reading,..

I then made the following comments that are relevant to what she had written above.

Luqman Michel22 September 2018 at 08:37

Ms. Pamela Snow, Thank you for this post. I will have to read it a few more times.
I teach children who have attended kindergarten and primary one or two and who cannot read in English. Many of them cannot even read a simple sentence.

However, they are able to read in Malay and Han Yu Pinyin which use the same alphabets used in the English language.

Could we please discuss as to why they cannot read in English and are wrongly classified as dyslexic, please?
Wish you well.

Email will be ideal for this discussion. Please write to me at my address

Luqman Michel 22 September 2018 at 08:45

"Did you know that learning to read is not “biologically natural”?

I have read similar sentences many times. My question would then be; Is reading in Malay, Tamil and Chinese natural? I am asking this question as almost all my students can read in languages other than English. After having observed my students, who I teach on a one on one basis, and having 'interviewed' them, over more than 14 years even after they have left my tuition, I now know the reason why they cannot read in English and are wrongly classified as dyslexic.

I have copied the comment in red above from her blog post.

I did not get a response.

Did she understand my message?

If not should she have asked me for clarification?

The following post this March has nothing new and completely misses the main reason why kids are unable to read. 

How will we ever end the reading wars if this continues for a few more decades.

You may read Pamela Snow’s article dated 21 March 2020 here. Here are a few extracts.

What, for example, are most pre-service teachers learning in 2020, that is materially different from what they were learning in 2010? Or 2000? Or even earlier?
If we interrogate Balanced Literacy practices employed in the late 1990s what would we find?

She listed the following among others:
·         banks of de-contextualised sight words that have no scope and sequence with respect to their phoneme-grapheme correspondences;
·         reluctance to apply phonics-based instruction of any kind, but begrudging acceptance of analytic phonics as a final resort;

And if we interrogate Balanced Literacy practices 30 years later in 2020, is anything different?

The truth is that there is no settled science of reading. The research on reading and teaching reading is abundant, but it is diverse and always in a state of change
Some years ago, in Australia, there was a proposal prior to a federal election, to bring in a goods and services (consumption) tax. Do you know how this proposal was rolled? By a clever political slogan: “If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it”.

But perhaps there’s another group who don’t understand it and so don’t vote for it: those in the academy and government who are stuck in a 1990s vision of what they would like the process of reading to be, rather than a 2020 science-informed position about its complexity and optimal ways of unlocking this for students.
The only reason that we are not closer to a consensus on what constitutes the science of reading (what the reading process is and optimal ways of teaching it) is the deliberate obfuscation and anti-science rhetoric of some in pre-service teacher education and influential policy roles.

We don’t have a science problem.
We have a rhetoric problem.
Here is a tweet by Pamela Snow yesterday 5.6.2020.

Pamela Snow Replying to @luqmanmichel @NathanielRSwain and 9 others.

Dear Luqman I am not your on-call response service. I have replied previously, but b/c your approach to reading problems has a narrow focus (pronunciation of phonemes) there is little for us to discuss. I also see no reason to respond to ppl who are insulting, racist & rude

My comment now:

Let us take baby steps. That comment by me on her blog was in 2018. I don’t find any insulting, racist or rude remarks. I believe I have written that as politely as I could.

She did not respond because of rudeness or because she did not understand as she has never tested kids in languages other than English?

I have repeatedly said that I am all for phonics. However, I have explained that phonics has not worked out the way it has because the pronunciation of phonemes is taught wrongly. I have videos on my blog which show students in universities in Australia pronouncing the consonants with extraneous sounds and yet able to read nonsense words from Dr.David Kilpatrick’s books. This proves that most students learn to read by analyses.

I quote from the extract above “Do you know how this proposal was rolled? By a clever political slogan: “If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it”.

Isn’t the above what is happening now with Pamela Snow and the other educators? They do not understand the seriousness of my message and ignore what I have been harping on for a decade.

Again I quote: ‘… your approach to reading problems has a narrow focus (pronunciation of phonemes) there is little for us to discuss…’.

I have written about the other matters in my blog and we can read it everywhere on the net. Every other educator talks about the importance of vocabulary, pronunciation and fluency. I agree on their importance but the foundation should be laid properly and this is why educators like Jeffrey Bowers challenge Jennifer Buckingham.

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