Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Topic: Failure to Learn to Read.

10-second review: Teachers pass the buck when Johnny does not learn to read and Johnny? He knows he’s dumb and not college material anyway.

Title: “The Reading Alibi—A Major School Problem.” CB Ennis. Journal of Reading (January 1975), 320-323. The secondary school publication of the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Summary: Johnny can’t read because….

First-grade teacher: Johnny can’t read. He lacks the proper background of language experience necessary for reading readiness. He should have received these experiences at home.

Second-grade teacher: He doesn’t know the basic sight words. He should have learned those in first grade.

Third-grade teacher: The vocabulary in the basal is too hard for him. He can’t attack words properly.

Fourth-grade teacher: He might have a severe emotional problem. He bites his finger nails. He needs a special education program for exceptionally slow learners. Then he could progress at his own rate.

Fifth-grade teacher: He should have been retained in the lower grades. I can’t go back and teach all the skills that he should have already learned. I have thirty-two other children to teach. He lacks comprehension skills, reading rate, word attack, study skills, everything!

Sixth-grade teacher: If a child has reached the sixth grade and has not learned to read, there is absolutely nothing anybody can do to help him learn to read. There is no need to waste time on Johnny. He will never be able to read.

Seventh-grade teacher: What in the world can I do to help him?

Eighth-grade teacher: The school can’t afford to buy special materials. I’ll let him color pictures.

Ninth-grade teacher: How in the world did Johnny ever get to high school? I’m not a reading teacher.

Counselor: I recommend vocational school for Johnny.

Comment: Stop me if you’ve heard all of this before. Olive Niles, a reading expert, once said, (paraphrased)“If every teacher in every grade in every subject used the directed reading assignment, there would be no reading problems in the U.S.” If you want to know what the directed reading assignment is, write to me at raystop2@comcast.net. RayS.

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