Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The Age Old Reading Debate

I found a very interesting editorial at the Endless Faculty Meeting blog Reading without comprehending By Patrick Mattimore

he are two clips from his article. "We do not teach children to comprehend what they read. That statement may seem heretical, but consider how we teach reading. Early on, children learn to read by turning letters into sounds and sounds into words. Words become sentences and those sentences become paragraphs and eventually stories and lessons. We test children on what they retain, but we don't teach them how to pull essential material from text nor to determine what is essential."

"Once students comprehend and contextualize written material, they are ready to think critically about what they are learning. They can evaluate scientific theories, digest and analyze political arguments, and ask intelligent questions that will lead them on the path to self-discoveries. These critical thinking abilities develop as students' stockpiles of comprehended information deepens."

What is also important for students to do is to DISCUSS the material they read after they are finished. With my children, they look at a title and we make predictions as to what the story will be about. That way, when they are reading they are referring back to clues and awaiting an outcome. Also, if phonics is taught separately then students can focus more on content.

I remember asking my son at the age of 7 about the story he was reading. He said to me, "You mean I am supposed to understand it?" He was totally sincere! It became a family joke, but it is really indicative of just what you are talking about here. If we don't ask them to talk about what they read, they probably won't think much about it, either.
thanks for sharing your thoughts about your son.
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