by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Emily Hanford’s article, Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read, is a superb look at the politics, science, and practice of teaching reading in public schools.
Hanford asks Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book “Language at the Speed of Sight,” to identify the central problem,
Seidenberg says the scientific research has had relatively little impact on what happens in classrooms because the science isn’t very highly valued in schools of education. “Prospective teachers aren’t exposed to it or they’re led to believe that it’s only one of several perspectives,” he said. “In a class on reading, prospective teachers will be exposed to a menu in which they have 10 or 12 different approaches to reading, and they’re encouraged to pick the one that will fit their personal teaching style best.”
I think that’s right. Unless education schools teach it, school districts and schools would need to retrain teachers. Hanford profiles schools and districts that have done so, but few have the expertise, resources, or inclination to follow suit.