Here are extracts from a blog post by Timothy Shanahan dated 13 January 2024 and my comments.
It may be hard to believe given news media reports and the numerous books that now purport to translate neuroscience into pedagogy, but there are not any new and effective instructional methods, approaches, techniques, or materials that have been developed based on “brain science.”
Invest in something more certain to help your school – like buying lottery tickets.
So far, no instructional method has resulted from the study of the brain.
I advocate phonics because so many studies show that kids do better in learning to read when that is part of their instruction.
There may not be any new and effective instructional approaches based on brain science. However, I have developed a method where I use all the tools available to get kids to learn to read using phonics, Dolch Word memorisation, word families, context clues, forming new words using word families and phonics.
In reading, most neural studies have explored how children read, not how they learn to read.
I have said this several times over the years. No one in the world knows how a kid learns to read. However, my research on why many kids can read in Malay and Hanyu Pinyin but not in English led me to discover why kids shut down/disengage from learning to read. I have listed the causes in my book Shut Down Kids together with corroborative evidence. To date, no one has disputed what I have written in my book. Read the book reviews on Amazon.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, some studies compared children who received little or no phonics with those who received a heavy dose of it. Most kids in both groups learned to read (albeit with less failure, greater average achievement, and better spelling ability in the phonics groups). But what about those kids who learned to read successfully without phonics? How do brains take such different learning paths to get to the same neural processing outcome?
This is the same question I have asked several years ago. How did the two children in the video clip on my post here learn to read despite pronouncing the consonants with extraneous sounds? How do the deaf and mute learn to read? How do those with an Auditory Processing Disorder learn to read? LINK
I don’t know the answers to those kinds of questions, but I do know that the explanations that have been provided so far tend to neglect variations in learning and processing (Debska, et al., 2023; Wat, et al., 2023).
I don’t know either but I know why many kids shut down from learning to read. Get rid of the causes and there will be fewer students leaving school as illiterates.
Your teachers don’t need to know how the brain processes single words, but what content if taught and what instructional methods if used are likely to be most successful in raising students’ reading achievement. Except in the most general terms (e.g., teach phonics, encourage kids to read a lot), neuroscience has few practical suggestions that do any more than confirm what you and your teachers already probably know.
I know what contents if taught and what instructional methods if used are likely in raising student’s reading achievement.
Teach them the correct sounds of consonants as shown in Teach Your Child to Read. This will ensure that no kid will have a problem with blending sounds taught with extraneous sounds.
Teach them to memorise high frequency words by rote memory and not visual memory. This will ensure the kids are fluent in reading about 50 to 70 % of the words in a book leaving about 30% to 50% to be read using phonics.
Timothy Shanahan or any other researcher should get some students to be taught using Teach Your Child to Read after they had learned the letter names and before having learned the sounds represented by letters wrongly.