Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Problem with, "Show Me the Research" Thinking

The following are some extracts from an article found here.
I request all educators to read the article.

Ask any of us why we teach the way we teach. Our honest response includes a combination of years of teaching experience, how we were taught as students, our personalities, what we gleaned from professional development, administrative policies, faculty culture, and whether or not we're getting enough sleep that week. We stick with this fragile alchemy as we plan our lessons, sure that ours is the most effective instruction possible.

My comments: Obviously we can teach only what we have learned including the experience we have gained from teaching. Teachers who have been teaching for a few years assume that theirs is the most effective way. If some students haven’t learned to read, then it must be the students' problem as many others have learned to read. 

Teachers do not realise that a certain percentage of children must be taught in a way that does not cause them to disengage from learning to read due to confusion. 

Then a colleague or school declares they'd like us to teach in a different way, and the first cries of, "Show me the research, or I won't accept it," tumble into faculty back-channels, the first bricks of defensive walls are laid. We're so sure of our own sense of things, devoid of formal research protocols as it may be, yet we demand those same protocols before considering anything new. And for some, anything short of incontrovertible proof of a new strategy's provenance and direct impact on student learning is grounds for complete dismissal, and occasionally, indignation.

My comment: The above sounds very familiar to me. 

First came Dr.David Boulton who disconnected me in 2017 for suggesting that if we teach the consonant sounds correctly then no child will be left behind.

When I wrote on Prof. Timothy Shanahan’s blog post that consonants should not be taught with an extraneous sound he asked me to show him evidence – show him the research.

Do we really need research reports to say that consonants should not be taught with extraneous sounds? I have maintained for the past 10 years that this is the main factor in kids disengaging themselves from learning to read.

I have mentioned in my book ‘Shut Down Kids’ what Dr. Richard Selznick and I discussed over many email exchanges. One of the quotes by him on page 9 of my book is:

“I agree with you (Luqman) that many of these kids are instructional
               casualties and if they had been taught differently,
                        many would have not shut-down.”

Dr. Richard Selznick had told me that out of the thousands of his patients, a majority of those who cannot read are those who pronounce consonants with extraneous sounds.

He ends the piece by asking educators to share moments when beliefs were overturned by new evidence or perspective and we were forced to change our teaching as a result. This is a scary thing for many of us, for we are not used to not knowing.
For someone professionally involved in education to be incurious about how this happens, and how to do it better, seems to me rather odd.

My comment: Exactly my sentiments. How is it possible for so many so-called educators not to be curious to find out about what I have told them for years?

How is it possible for investigative media such as APM reports to be incurious about what I wrote to them?

"It can be comforting to think of research as the ultimate authority on a question of educational policy or practice, but the truth is that usually it is not. The best that research can do is to provide clues on what works, when, and for whom, because classrooms, schools, and communities inevitably vary."

My comment: As far as I am concerned, there are no two ways about it. There is only one correct way to teach sounds represented by consonants. Teach it with no extraneous sounds. It does not matter which classroom, school, community or country you teach in. 

Here is another quote from my book. This is by Nancy Hennessy who was the president of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) from 2003 – 2005.

“I think it’s important for us to think about how to prepare our teachers
and how we continue to allow them to develop. Our teachers generally
                              don’t know how to teach reading.”

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