Friday, July 21, 2023

Brain’s Innate Capacity for Reading

This is a continuation of my post yesterday found here.

Renee Harding asked the following question:

If the majority of kids were somehow figuring out how to read (i.e., stumbling upon, “discovering,” or activating that “innate” ability [that doesn’t exist]), then why are so few students reading proficiently?!

I have said in several of my blog that reading is an innate ability contrary to what the general opinion is. I based this on observation of my students whom I started teaching in 2004 to learn why kids were able to read in Malay but not in English.

In my research, I learnt the importance of early input. LINK If a child learns something that is wrong it will interrupt the route for learning to read. I wrote several blogs to say that TV programmes such as Baby TV are detrimental to children because they teach sounds represented by letters wrongly. There are many videos that do the same thing.

Here is an extract from an article in the Harvard Medical School:

In addition, there are several important white-matter pathways involved in reading, says Gaab. White matter is a collection of nerve fibers in the brain—so called for the white color of myelin, the fatty substance that insulates the fibers—that help the brain learn and function.

Gaab likens these tracts to a highway system that connects the back of the brain’s reading network to the front. In order to read and comprehend, this highway system must be wide enough for multiple pieces of information to travel simultaneously. The highway must also be smooth, so that information can flow at a high rate of speed. And, she says, “You don’t want the information to stop. You don’t want a lot of stoplights.”

Let us connect the dots of what Thorndike had said about early input; Charlie Munger’s statement that the human mind is like the human egg; Reid Lyon’s ‘Instructional casualties’ LINK  and the report above that says “You don’t want that information to stop’. All these points to the fact that the innate ability to read has been compromised by kids being exposed to the wrong sounds represented by letters which then makes it difficult for them to blend cuh (c) ah (a) tuh (t) to sound out the word cat. This exposure happens to kids watching TV shows like Baby TV and to kids taught similarly in kindergartens. The kids predisposed to disengaging to learn to read shut down from learning to read.We poison the minds of kids and then say these kids have a learning disorder!

Those kids who were read to from an early age and not exposed to wrong phonics are the kids who read fluently. For them ‘information does not stop and there are no stop lights’ as stated in the report above. For those kids where the flow of information has been blocked the intervention teachers are the ones who unblock the path and get these kids to read. And there are the kids who somehow figure out how to read.

Here is an article from Scientific Reports that supports what I have been saying for many years. LINK.


Educators such as Pamela Snow should stop copy-pasting without understanding. They should stop making statements that will mislead parents and teachers. Here is an excerpt of an article I wrote.

Educators on Twitter keep saying that learning to read is NOT a natural process. Pamela Snow copy pastes what others have said – ‘Reading is a human contrivance that has existed for only approximately 6,000 years (Snow, 2016)’.

The statement above ridicules the intelligence of humans. I called it an idiotic statement and a Twitter friend said, “I don't think it is productive to categorise opposing opinions as 'idiotic', especially when those positions are the generally accepted.”



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