Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Language at the Speed of Sight – Mark Seidenberg - and my comments

The first sentence in the image above says little was known in the old days.

But, many matters discovered and explained in the old days have not entered the brains of many of our present-day educators including Mark Seidenberg.

One of the most important theories proposed by Thorndike in 1913 (more than 100 years ago) is that what is learnt in the initial stage is important. New ideas that do not reconcile with old ideas will be rejected by the minds of a majority of people.

There is another quote from even much earlier as follows:

It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning. (Claude Bernard 1813 - 1878)

A kid’s prior knowledge can help or hinder learning. Prior knowledge influences how kids interpret what they are learning. When the knowledge a kid has from previous learning is inaccurate it will interfere or impede new learning. 

All of us naturally make connections between pieces of knowledge.

Programmes like Baby TV and many videos which are viewed by kids around the world are detrimental to the kids. Once the kids have learned the wrong sounds represented by letters they find it difficult to connect the new correctly taught sounds by teachers. It is like the construction industry where a new good scaffold cannot be connected to an old damaged scaffold. 

Once a kid shuts down/ disengages from learning to read it is almost impossible to get him to unlearn what he has learnt wrongly.

This should be obvious from the fact that many kids who are unable to read are able to read when a teacher points out that what they had learnt previously is incorrect. Unlearning what has been wrongly taught and relearning what they had originally learnt wrongly is what gets these children to begin to learn to read.

Educators keep asking for evidence and research reports but do not respond when I ask for research reports on why kids are able to read after a short period of intervention.

Is there any research done on what happens during the intervention?

The clip says: People should not be faulted for having been wrong.

No people should not be ‘faulted for having been wrong’ but is it not stupid for educators to insist on research reports when something wrong is being pointed out? Isn’t it silly of people like Timothy Shanahan to stick to the wrong research materials despite explaining to him why phonological awareness deficit cannot be the cause of kids being unable to read? Don’t we have the capacity to think when we are told that some research reports in the past may be inaccurate?

Here are a few more quotes attributed to Claude Bernard that are relevant.

Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.

When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted.

Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results, only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim.

We must keep our freedom of mind, … and must believe that in nature what is absurd, according to our theories, is not always impossible.

Here is a question from the clip above: How do we read?

Does Mark Seidenberg know how a kid learns to read? As mentioned by me numerous times, no one in the world knows how a kid learns to read (in this case I am only referring to decoding) and yet we argue incessantly that the kids are unable to decode because of phonics, lack of phonics, whole language, balanced literature and what not.

Another question from the clip above. Why so many can’t read?

I have been shouting at the top of my voice for more than a decade, the reasons why many smart kids are unable to read (decode) but who is willing to debate me on this?

Then Mark Seidenberg asks: What can be done about it?

Teach kids the foundation of how to read correctly. Why would any sane educator say that consonants cannot be taught without extraneous sounds despite being shown videos of a kid from Lagos pronouncing the consonants as perfectly as it is taught to be pronounced by the lady in this video?

If children disengage from learning to read because sounds represented by letters are taught wrongly then for goodness sake make that a priority. Stop saying that consonants cannot be taught without an extraneous sound.

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