Confused Literature with Literacy
Fell Greene, Ed.D.
Readings for Comprehension |
| AVKO Curriculum
| The Teaching of Reading
is a reprint of one originally published in the Fall
2000 issue of the LaBIDA Journal, a publication of
the International Dyslexia Association, Louisiana
Branch. Dr. Greene was the keynote speaker at
the LaBIDA Tulane conference. She is Academic
Dean at the National Institute for Continuing
Education, author of Language!, and founder of
Examples of Fuzzy Thinking That Caused a
1. Language is a "natural"
human phenomenon. If we immerse our students
in language and literature, they'll become good
This kind of thinking requires a giant leap of
logic: spoken language is a natural human
phenomenon; written language is not. Written
language is invented. Writing has been
variously invented in various cultures and
civilizations. A quick review of history and
anthropology reveals that most civilizations never
developed a written language.
2. Don't worry about
word recognition. Comprehension is all that
matters. Focus on the semantic, syntactic, and
schematic cueing systems in teaching reading.
on, some glean the overall meaning of a passage
without identifying all words; context clues and
picture clues can mask even the most serious
learning disability. But readers require
automaticity in decoding to become good readers;
they must identify words as automatically as their
own names. If not, "word attack" becomes
literal. Significant increase in special
education referrals occurs at about fifth grade
level--at the same time, a break point occurs in
reading development. Kids can't guess at words
like chlorophyll or circumnavigation; these words
don't exist in their listening vocabularies.
3. Don't worry about
spelling. Let it happen naturally. Let's
do "invented" spelling.
ignored what they had learned about the re-learning
curve in Ed Psych 101. Spelling inventions
were learned so thoroughly they became impossible to
4. Basic skills are not
the issue; literacy can't be achieved through
by definition, is a synergistic collection of
discrete skills--all of those skills that give one
automatic facility with the written word: reading,
writing, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and
5. The English language
isn't phonologically predictable. Never teach
phonics; it produces phonic-damaged children.
Drill and kill. There are too many rules and
kids can't learn all of those rules.
English is phonologically predictable. The
kids who do not learn the structure and function of
the English language are the ones who are damaged.
Some of learning requires drill and practice;
education need not equal entertainment.
Suppose a math professor suggested that we never
teach the rules. Just immerse them in
numbers. Then, there's whole music. And
whole science. Why not whole medicine?
6. If children are
motivated, they'll become readers; if children are
read to, they'll become readers; when children are
ready, they'll become readers; if children are
placed in a print-rich environment, they'll become
readers; if we fail to teach children the code of
written English, they will learn to read.
the emperor who wasn't wearing any clothes.
The fallout, after twenty years of fuzzy thinking,
has arrived. It's here.
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