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Part 2: What whole language writers have had to say about literacy.

This section comprises a collection of quotes intended to illustrate the set of beliefs that drove whole language practices. In my previous blog on whole language, I argued that many of the practices derived from those beliefs are contrary to what is known about teaching effectiveness and, in particular, what promotes reading development.

 Dr Kerry Hempenstall, Senior Industry Fellow, School of Education, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

My blogs can be viewed on-line or downloaded as a Word file or PDF at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/olxpifutwcgvg8j/AABU8YNr4ZxiXPXzvHrrirR8a?dl=0


What is whole language anyway? Hmm, it’s hard to say.

 

Bergeron (1990), after a review of the major writers, concluded "one cannot draw from the literature a concise definition for whole language because no such definition was found to exist" (p. 318).

Bergeron, B. S. (1990). What does the term whole language mean? Constructing a definition from the literature. Journal of Reading Behavior, 22, 301-329.


Watson (1989) suggested that "advocates reject a dictionary-type definition" and each teacher evolves his or her own version of whole language instruction, leading to "significant and important differences”.

Jeynes, W.H., & Littell, S.W. (2000). A meta-analysis of studies examining the effect of whole language instruction on the literacy of low-SES students. The Elementary School Journal, 101, 21-38.


 

Whole language beliefs inconsistent with research findings:

 

1. Whole language belief: That reading is natural, and instruction is unnecessary and unhelpful.

 

The notion that reading development is essentially the same as language development, and develops in the same natural manner has long been a WL millstone.

“Literacy learning proceeds naturally if the environment support young children’s experimentation with print.”

Schickendanz, J. A. (1986). More than the ABC’s: The early stages of reading and writing. Washington, DC: NAEYC.


"The child is already programmed to learn to read"

Smith, F. (1973). Psychology and reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.


"The most effective way we can guide children toward the understandings they need in order to make sense with print is to replicate, as far as possible, the conditions that proved so successful with oral language, and do just what we do. Keeping the language cue systems together, immerse learners in the whole language of songs, poems, and memorable selections of narrative and non-narrative text. Provide continual opportunities for read-to, read-with, and independent reading and writing. Model, prompt, enjoy, standby, and let them figure out how it all works. Readers and writers from the start, if we encourage them, children dive in, for the experience of meaning, just as they did with speech”.

Whole Language Teachers Association Newsletter (Spring 1988).


“No one will teach your child how to read. Reading isn't taught. Reading is developed. … They have learned how to speak - a much more difficult process - and they will learn how to read! All you have to do is set the right conditions.”

Failure Free Reading (2005). 30 Ways to Improve Your Child's Reading. See at http://www.failurefree.com/downloads/30Ways.pdf


“ … children learn to read themselves; direct teaching plays only a minor role” (p.87).

Smith, J. W. A., & Elley, W. B. (1994). Learning to read in New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman


“From a holistic, constructivist perspective, all children simply engage in a process of learning as much as they can in a particular subject area; how much and exactly what they learn will depend upon their backgrounds, interests, and abilities” (p. 72).

Stainback, S., & Stainback, W. (Eds.). (1992). Curriculum considerations in inclusive classrooms: Facilitating learning for all students. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.


"Children must develop reading strategies by and for themselves" (p. 178).

Weaver, C. (1988). Reading process and practice. Exeter, NH: Heinemann.


“Children are more likely to make connections between phonics and their reading and writing of texts if they are engaged and involved in making discoveries for themselves” (p.7).

Ministry of Education. (2003, June 2). Learning to read. New Zealand Education Gazette, 82(10), 8-10.


"Kids already know a lot about written language before they come to school" (p. 218).

Goodman, K. S. (1989). Beyond basal readers. In G. Manning & M. Manning (Eds.), Whole language: Beliefs and practices (pp. 217-219). Washington, DC: National Education Association.


"Knowledge of reading is developed through the practice of reading, not through anything that is taught at school"

Smith, F. (1973). Psychology and reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.


“One of my children learnt to read from cook books, because he loved cooking. … Reading is just like footy or cricket or golf. You learn by doing it.”

Children’s author, Paul Jennings interviewed in Cafarella, J. (2011). Bringing books to life. The Victorian Premiers’ (sic) Reading Challenge. The Age, Sunday June 19.


(It is) … “through using language and hearing others use it in everyday situations--that children learn to talk. Our research has indicated that the same is true of learning to read and write”

National Council of Teachers of English. (1993). Elementary school practices. Retrieved from http://ncte.org


“… have faith in children as learners. They can and usually will develop a grasp of letter/sound relationships with little direct instruction, just as they learned to talk without direct instruction in the rules of the English language.”

Connie Weaver (Phonics in whole language classrooms) at http://kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/Phonics.html


“When language (oral or written) is an integral part of functioning of a community and is used around and with neophytes, it is learned "incidentally"”.

Artwergen, B., Edelsky, C., & Flores, B. (1987). Whole language: What's new? Reading Teacher 41, 144-154.


In a book published for the Ministry of Education, Mooney (1988) argued that "Children do not learn to read in order to be able to read a book, they learn to read by reading books." (p. 3)

Mooney, M. (1988). Developing life-long readers. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.


"There is nothing unique about reading, either visually or as far as language is concerned" (p. 188).

Smith, R (1986). Understanding reading. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


“Learning is continuous, spontaneous, and effortless, requiring no particular attention, conscious motivation, or specific reinforcement” (p.432).

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: The never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


“Saying that we are determined to teach every child to read does not mean that we will teach every child to read’’ (p.441).

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: the never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


“Methods can never ensure that children learn to read. .... It is the relationships that exist within the classroom that matter. ... Tests are not required to find out whether children are learning” (p.440).

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: The never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


"Children can develop and use an intuitive knowledge of letter-sound correspondences [without] any phonics instruction [or] without deliberate instruction from adults" (p. 86).

Weaver, C. (1980). Psycholinguistics and reading. Cambridge, MA: Winthrop.


“We cannot teach another person directly; we can only facilitate his learning”.

Rogers, C. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


“And so the pedagogy reflected this understanding and the literacy period seemed to be seamless with no distinct lessons on reading skills or spelling drills”.

Cambourne, B. & Turbill, J. (2007). Looking back to look forward: Understanding the present by revisiting the past: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Progressive Education, 3(2), 8-28.


”Whole language advocates frequently assert that the key to learning language well rests in enjoying the learning process. They affirm that because whole language constitutes a more natural way of learning language, students will enjoy learning more and hence learn more”(p.36).

Jeynes, W.H., & Littell, S.W. (2000). A meta-analysis of studies examining the effect of whole language instruction on the literacy of low-SES students. The Elementary School Journal, 101, 21-38.

 

2. A whole language belief inconsistent with research is that the use of contextual cues is the sign of skilled reading.

 

If it were true then one could understand how, for WL, meaning is not just the objective, but also the driver, the means, for reading development. Unfortunately for WL, it isn’t the case that contextual cues are indicative of skilled reading. Below are quotes indicating how strongly wedded WL is to this misunderstanding.

“… all proficient readers use three major subsystems or cueing systems of language in order to construct meaning from text: the semantic, syntactic, and graphophonic systems”.

Cambourne, B. & Turbill, J. (2007). Looking back to look forward: Understanding the present by revisiting the past: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Progressive Education, 3(2), 8-28.


 

”Goodman et al. (1987) consider that semantic cues are deep structure processes, while grapho-phonic cues are surface structure processes. Smith (2004) explains that deep structure processes involve knowledge and meaning, while surface structure processes are the physical characteristics of text such as the visual and sound properties. Goodman et al. (1987) put the most emphasis on semantic followed by syntactic cues in the reading process. They suggested that grapho-phonic cues are utilised only when the former systems are unavailable. Whole-language advocates believe that skilled readers are more likely to depend on meaning and grammatical cues and are less likely to use grapho-phonic cues than are less skilled readers (Stanovich, 2000). Goodman (1979) claimed that the semantic acceptability of a reader's miscues prior to correction is the greatest predictor of reading ability. Consequently a focus on meaning is expected to lead to skilled reading (Robinson & McKenna, 2008)”.

Beatty, L., & Care, E. (2009). Learning from their miscues: Differences across reading ability and text difficulty. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Oct 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3336/is_3_32/ai_n45180004/


"Reading without guessing is not reading at all"

Smith, F. (1973). Psychology and reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.


"Effective readers use all three cueing systems interdependently. Ineffective readers tend to rely too heavily upon graphophonic cues" (p. 41).

Routman, R. (1988).Transitions: From literature to literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


To decipher rode in the sentence My great-grandma rode a horse, the NZ (2009) standards state that “the student may use context (including the illustration), any prior knowledge about horse riding, and their knowledge of language structures and letter-sound relationships” (p.20).

Ministry of Education. (2009). Reading and writing standards for Years 1-8. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Ltd.


“Whole language” sees reading as consisting of a number of cueing systems, of which phonics is one."

Gannon, S. & Sawyer, W. (2007). “Whole language” and moral panic in Australia. International Journal of Progressive Education, 3(2), 30-51.


“All proficient readers use three major subsystems or cueing systems of language in order to construct meaning from text: the semantic, syntactic, and graphophonic systems. And so the pedagogy reflected this understanding and the literacy period seemed to be seamless with no distinct lessons on reading skills or spelling drills”.

Cambourne, B. & Turbill, J. (2007). Looking back to look forward: Understanding the present by revisiting the past: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Progressive Education, 3(2), 8-29.


“Skill in reading involves not greater precision, but more accurate first guesses based on better sampling techniques, greater control over language structure, broadened experiences and increased conceptual development” (Goodman, 1976, p. 504).

Goodman, K. (1976). Reading: A psycholinguistic guessing game. In H. Singer & R. Ruddell (Eds), Theoretical models and processes of reading (pp. 497-508). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


“In Reading in Junior Classes, (Department of Education, 1985) it was argued that children sample the text, predict what will happen, confirm their predictions and self-correct if their predictions don’t fit with the sampled text. Advice of teaching children how to sample was given: "Helping beginning readers to sample effectively means showing them how to attend only to those details of meaning and print which are necessary to make predictions, and to confirm or correct them." (p. 32)

Department of Education (1985). Reading in junior classes: With guidelines to the revised Ready to Read Series. Wellington: Author.


“Proficient readers seem unconsciously to use initial letters plus prior knowledge and context to predict what a word might be, before focusing on more of the word or the following context to confirm or correct”.

Weaver, C. (No date). Phonics in whole language classrooms at: http://kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/Phonics.html


“The systems readers use to make sense of print are interrelated and partially redundant. For instance, in the sentence There are some books on the table, the words some and are and the letter s in books signal that there is more than one book. This redundancy permits readers to sample print, using only what they need to construct meaning effectively and efficiently. Readers also use these interrelated systems to make predictions concerning what the print says, to confirm or disconfirm their predictions, and to connect these meanings to form a coherent understanding of the text”.

National Council of Teachers of English (2004). On reading, learning to read, and effective reading instruction: An overview of what we know and how we know it.Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/onreading


“The more difficulty a reader has with reading, the more he relies on the visual information; this statement applies to both the fluent reader and the beginner. In each case, the cause of the difficulty is inability to make full use of syntactic and semantic redundancy, of nonvisual sources of information” (Smith, 1971, p. 221).

Smith, F. (1971). Understanding reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.


“The student:

  • Attends to the meaning of what is read rather than focusing on figuring out words.
  • Uses context, pictures, syntax, and structural analysis clues to predict meaning of unknown words.
  • Uses fix-it strategies (predicts, uses pictorial cues, asks a friend, skips the word, substitutes another meaningful word)”
  • That a story is easier to read than a page, a page easier to read than a paragraph, a paragraph easier than a sentence, a sentence easier than a word, and a word easier than a letter. Our research continues to support this conclusion and we believe it to be true … .
  • It is through errors ... that we've learned that reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game.
  • We can teach children letter names and the sounds letters represent and we can teach them words in isolation from the context of language, but we know that these methods do not lead children to read.

Oklahoma State Department of Education (1992). Reading learner outcomes. In the Oklahoma State Competencies, Grade One, pp.15-22. [Online]. Available: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/dumb/dumb3.htm


"It is easier for a reader to remember the unique appearance and pronunciation of a whole word like 'photograph' than to remember the unique pronunciations of meaningless syllables and spelling units" (p. 146).

Smith, F. (1985). Reading without nonsense: Making sense of reading. New York:

Teachers College Press.


“Inference and prediction make it possible to leap toward meaning without fully completing the optical, perceptual and syntactic cycles. Yet the reader, once sense is achieved, has the sense of having seen every graphic feature, identified every pattern and word, assigned every syntactic pattern”. (p. 835)

Goodman, K.S. (1985). Unity in reading. In H. Singer & R.B. Ruddell (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (pp. 813-840). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


“One word in five can be completely eliminated from most English texts with scarcely any effect on its overall comprehensibility" (p. 79).

Smith, F. (1973). Psychology and reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.


"Even if the child substitutes words of his own for some that are on the page, provided that those express the meaning, it is an encouraging sign that the reading has been real, and recognition of details will come as it is needed. Reading to be truthful, must be free of what is on the page."

Huey, E. (1908). The psychology and pedagogy of reading. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


"In a position paper on reading and phonics released by the English Teachers Association of NSW in July, it suggests a child reading the sentence "The car drove along the s..... at high speed" could guess it says street because the word starts with s. If the child said road, the paper says, the teacher will "have to weigh up whether to take the student back to the word" to read it correctly. "They may NOT because they recognise that meaning is most important, that we ALL make such mistakes EVERY time we read, and that this mistake shows that the child understands what they are reading," the paper says."

Ferrari, J. (2007). Teacher failures spell student trouble. The Australian, 17/9.


“Guessing in the way I have described it is not just a preferred strategy for beginners and fluent readers alike; it is the most efficient manner in which to read and learn to read” (Smith, 1979).

Smith, F. (1979). Reading without nonsense. New York: Teachers College Press.


My school district has chosen a "framework" for reading called the daily 5 fostering literacy independence in the elementary grades by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser "the sisters". The other piece teacher are trained in is from The Cafe Book by the same authors. An example of one of the strategies: Trade a Word/Guess a word that makes sense. The "sisters" say to teach the strategy by using a shared text and a sticky note to cover a word or two within the text, except for the first letter, before showing the class. "We model that when readers come to words they don't know, they can use the context clues and look at the first letter of the word, substituting a word that would make sense in the story. Then the reader continues reading the sentence and clarifies that the substituted word hold the meaning of the passage."

DI List 2/8/2012.


”The systems readers use to make sense of print are interrelated and partially redundant. For instance, in the sentence There are some books on the table, the words some and are and the letter s in books signal that there is more than one book. This redundancy permits readers to sample print, using only what they need to construct meaning effectively and efficiently. 6 Readers also use these interrelated systems to make predictions concerning what the print says, to confirm or disconfirm their predictions, and to connect these meanings to form a coherent understanding of the text”.

Commission on Reading of the National Council of Teachers of English (2004). On reading, learning to read, and effective reading instruction: An overview of what we know and how we know it. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/onreading


 

3. A whole language belief inconsistent with research is that phonics is best downplayed or rejected. Below are some examples

 

In the three cueing system, phonic analysis is the last of the three cues to be employed, and for some it should never be used because it interrupts meaning. It is now understood that for beginners and strugglers, it is the ideal starting point – particularly when it is presented systematically and in synthetic form.

“All readers, from five year old beginners on their first books to the effective adult reader need to use: the meaning, the sentence structure, order cues, size cues, special features, special knowledge, first and last letter knowledge before they resort to left to right sounding out of chunks or letter clusters, or in the last resort, single letters.” (p. 9)

Clay, M. (1998). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Auckland, Heinemann.


“Empirical investigations may demonstrate, as miscue analysis has, that phonics is a distinctly inferior cuing system, one hardly deserving any privileged status (Flurkey and Xu, 2003)”.

Strauss, S. L., & Altwerger, B. (2007). The logographic nature of English alphabetics and the fallacy of direct intensive phonics instruction. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 7(3), 299-317.

Flurkey, A. and Xu, J. (Eds.) (2003) On the revolution of reading: The selected writings of Kenneth S. Goodman. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


“Sounding out a word is a cumbersome, time-consuming, and unnecessary activity" (p. 86).

Weaver, C. (1980). Psycholinguistics and reading. Cambridge, NM: Winthrop.


Gerald Coles, author of Reading lessons: The debate over literacy, points out, "Phonics is a way of thinking about illiteracy that doesn't involve thinking about larger social injustices.


"All readers, from five year old beginners on their first books to the effective adult reader need to use: the meaning, the sentence structure, order cues, size cues, special features, special knowledge, first and last letter knowledge before they resort to left to right sounding out of chunks or letter clusters, or in the last resort, single letters." (p. 9)

Clay (1998). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Auckland, Heinemann.


"Is it necessary to have a grasp of phonics in order to be able to read? Broadly speaking, the astonishing and contentious answer is no. ... Let's assume that learning to read is like driving a car. Most adults can drive, but only a tiny proportion of us is able to take a car to pieces, lay the pieces along a road and then put the car together again so that it works well enough to drive us to our required destination. Teaching children to read through a phonics-only program is asking them to break reading into tiny pieces and then put it together again. It's difficult, confusing and unnecessary."

Fox, M. (2005). Phonics has a phoney role in the literacy wars. Sydney Morning Herald, August 16, 2005. http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/phonics-has-a-phoney-role-in-the-literacy-wars/2005/08/15/1123958006652.html


The teacher's professional associations, Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA), Primary English Teaching Association (PETA), Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) state:

"It is not in the best interests of the nation's children to mandate the teaching of phonics."

English and Literacy Professional Associations of Australia. (2005). Peak literacy associations urge a balanced approach to teaching literacy. Media Release http://www.tate.neat.tas.edu.au/pdf/media.pdf


"Furthermore, until a child can read, talking about letters and about the sounds of letters is sheer jabberwacky. Thorough knowledge of letters and their sounds is not required in order to read words; phonic skills come with reading." p. 108

Smith, F. (1986). Insult to intelligence: The bureaucratic invasion of our classrooms. New York: Arbor House.


Teaching phonics is "a way of keeping children's attention on doing what they're told and keeping them from thinking for themselves” (Weaver, 1999, p.1).

Cheney, L. (1999). Phonics: It is a legitimate teaching method, not a right-wing conspiracy. NRRF. Retrieved from http://www.nrrf.org/article_cheney.htm


Phonics for beginners “is a difficult, unnecessary and largely fruitless activity, creating distorted ideas about the nature and purpose of reading” (p.143).

Smith, J. W. A., & Elley, W. B. (1994). Learning to read in New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman


“The solution for reading disabled children is simple: Don't use phonics”.

Zenhausern, B. (2008). Enabling Support Foundation http://www.enabling.org/drupal/EdResearch


"Children will not learn by trying to relate letters sounds, partly because the task does not make sense to them and partly because written language does not work that way. In my view, reading is not a matter of decoding letters to sound but of bringing meaning to print" (p. 41).

Smith, F. (1986). Reading without nonsense. New York: Arbor House.


Children should learn to read before tackling phonics” (Mem Fox).

Hiatt, B. (2005). War over literacy still taken as read The West Australian, p. 43, 8 June.


“ … phonics and letters can be part of the teaching of reading; they can’t be the beginning of the teaching of reading.” (Mem Fox).

Pete, J. (2013). Who should teach our kids to read? Essential Kids, July 23, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.essentialkids.com.au/entertaining-kids/parenting-and-childrens-books/who-should-teach-our-kids-to-read-20130723-2qfm3.html


“Children can develop and use an intuitive knowledge of letter-sound correspondences [without] any phonics instruction [or] without deliberate instruction from adults" (p. 86).

Weaver, C. (1980). Psycholinguistics and reading. Cambridge, NM: Winthrop.


“Schooling is a matter of mediating the relationship between children and the printed text” (Olson, 1977, p. 66).

Olson, D. R. (1997). The languages of instruction: The literate bias of schooling. In R. C. Anderson, R. J. Spiro, & W. E. Montague (Eds.), Schooling and the acquisition of knowledge. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


"Matching letters with sounds is a flat-earth view of the world, one that rejects modem science about reading" (Goodman, 1986, p. 371.

Goodman, K. S. (1986). What's whole in whole language. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Scholastic.


LITERACY teachers are planning a subliminal campaign to undermine phonics as an approach to teaching reading by subconsciously linking it with the idea of failure.

The target of their campaign is NSW Education Minister Verity Firth, who last week announced the nation's first direct comparison of phonics-based reading methods with other techniques. In a group email sent to a network of literacy educators, associate professor in education at Wollongong University Brian Cambourne proposes flooding Ms Firth's office with emails that associate phonics based approaches with failure "at an almost subconscious level". Professor Cambourne suggests messages, including linking phonics to "readicide", which he defines as a noun meaning "the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools".

Ferrari, J. (2009). Teachers in 'subliminal' bid to bar phonics. The Australian, March 19, 2009.


“Whereas a decoding-first theory argues that comprehension can be fixed up after decoding has been mastered, evolution theory argues that meaning is paramount all the time. It's not something which can be added later. Furthermore, the evidence I shared above indicates that it is possible to access meaning without first accessing sound”.

Cambourne, B. (2009). Phonics, reading, common sense and the dangers of "read-i-cide." Retrieved fromwww.abc.net.au/unleashed/31284.html


“Phonics, which means teaching a set of spelling to sound correspondence rules that permit the decoding of written language into speech, just does not work”

Smith, F. (1985). Reading without nonsense (2nd. Ed). New York: Teachers College Press.


“Extensive phonics teaching is a hopeless endeavour (p. 33).

Krashen, S. (2002). Defending whole language: The limits of phonics instruction and the efficacy of whole language instruction. Reading Improvement, 39(1), 32-42.


“Carefully controlled vocabulary and decontextualised phonics instruction are incompatible with meaningful authentic texts”.

Goodman, K. S. (1989). Whole language research: Foundations and development. The Elementary School Journal, 90, 208-221.


"But reading is not accomplished by decoding to sound - meaning must usually be grasped before the appropriate sounds can be produced, and the production of sounds alone does not give meaning. Decoding directly from letters to sound is unnecessary as well as inefficient." p.184

Smith, F. (1973). Psycholinguistics and reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.


“The rules of phonics are too complex, ... and too unreliable ... to be useful.”

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: The never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan,74, 432-441


“To the fluent reader the alphabetic principle is completely irrelevant. He identifies every word (if he identifies words at all) as an ideogram” (p.124).

Smith, F. (1973). Psycholinguistics and reading. New York: Holt, Rhinehart, & Winston.


“The worst readers are those who try to sound out unfamiliar words according to the rules of phonics.” (p.438).

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: the never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


“Focus on the subsystems of language results in useless, time-wasting and confusing instruction”.

King, D.F., & Goodman, K.S. (1990). Whole language: Cherishing learners and their language. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 21, 221-227.


"English is spelled so unpredictably that there is no way of predicting when a particular spelling correspondence applies" (p. 53).

Smith, F. (1985). Reading. New York: Cambridge University Press.


"Phonics is a flat-earth view of the world, since it rejects modern science about reading and writing and how they develop (p.39)."

Goodman, K. S. (1986). What's whole in whole language. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Scholastic.


"It is easier for a reader to remember the unique appearance and pronunciation of a whole word like 'photograph' than to remember the unique pronunciations of meaningless syllables and spelling units" (p. 146).

Smith, F. (1985). Reading without nonsense: Making sense of reading. New York: Teachers College Press.


"Basal readers, workbooks, skills sequences, and practice materials that fragment the process are unacceptable to whole language teachers. Their presentation of language phenomena is unscientific, and they steal teachers' and learners' time away from productive reading and writing." p.29

Goodman, K. S. (1986). What's whole in whole language. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Scholastic.


“Early in our miscue research, we conclude

  • That a story is easier to read than a page, a page easier to read than a paragraph, a paragraph easier than a sentence, a sentence easier than a word, and a word easier than a letter. Our research continues to support this conclusion and we believe it to be true...
  • It is through errors...that we've leared that reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game.
  • We can teach children letter names and the sounds letters represent and we can teach them words in isolation from the context of language, but we know that these methods do not lead children to read.

Goodman, K. & Goodman, Y. (1981). Twenty questions about teaching language. Educational Leadership 38, 437-442.


“Fluent readers … draw on their prior knowledge and use all available sources of information simultaneously and usually unconsciously” (p.30), and that “in skilled reading, predictions are usually checked swiftly and automatically” (p.130).

Ministry of Education. (2003). Effective literacy practice in Years 1 to 4. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Ltd.


“The way you interpret what the child does will reflect what you understand reading to be. For instance, if she reads the word feather for father, a phonics-oriented teacher might be pleased because she's come close to sounding the word out.

However, if you believe reading is a meaning-seeking process, you may be concerned that she's overly dependent on phonics at the expense of meaning. You'd be happier with a miscue such as daddy, even though it doesn't look or sound anything like the word in the text. At least the meaning would be intact” (p. 19).

Baskwill, J., & Whitman, P. (1988). Evaluation: Whole Language, Whole Child. New York: Scholastic.


“Initial consonants and consonant clusters, used with syntactic and semantic information, usually provide sufficient information for word recognition and reading for meaning. Teaching children to sound out words letter by letter is unnecessary and confusing.In learning phonics children best acquire phonic and related knowledge through rich experiences with using print for real purposes”.

Emmitt, M. (1996). Have I got my head in the sand? - Literacy matters. In 'Keys to life’ Conference proceedings, Early Years of Schooling Conference, Sunday 26 & Monday 27 May 1996, World Congress Centre, Melbourne' pp. 69- 75. Melbourne: Directorate of School Education. [On-Line]. Available: http://www.sofweb.vic.edu.au/eys/pdf/Proc96.pdf


“ … in efficient rapid word perception the reader relies mostly on the sentence and its meaning and some selected features of the forms of words. Awareness of the sentence context (and often the general context of the text as a whole) and a glance at the word enables the reader to respond instantly” (p.8).

Clay, M.M. (1991). Becoming literate: The construction of inner control. Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann.


“Children “learn to read with minimal input from the text, predicting and confirming and making sense as they go” (p. 142).

Smith, J. W. A., & Elley, W. B. (1994). Learning to read in New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman


 

4. A whole language belief inconsistent with research is that phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle are insignificant. Below are some examples

 

While the precise role for purely oral phonemic awareness instruction remains under investigation, there is general agreement that tying phonemic awareness to letters and their sounds to produce an understanding of the alphabetic principle is very important - for beginners and strugglers in particular.

“Some studies in reading development are being centred around a narrow and sterile concept of phonemic awareness. All children who learn to understand oral language must be aware of the phonemes (significant perceptual sound units of language) or they could not comprehend speech.” (p. 1102).

Goodman, K. S. (1994). Reading, writing, and written texts: A transactional sociopsycholinguistic view. In Robert. B. Ruddell, Martha Rapp Ruddell, Harry Singer (Eds.). Theoretical models and processes of reading. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association. pp. 1093-1130.


“Taylor’s attempt to develop a short paper on phonemic awareness research evolved into a quest to capture in extensive detail how this recent shift in controlling reading instruction occurred. Her book does provide a critical analysis of the phonemic awareness research including alternative views from a socio-cultural perspective …”

“Where there is political interference there are lobby groups, and one that has become very strong during this age includes those who never quite left the age of reading as decoding. They have been beavering away, many with their own small research projects that prove categorically that children must have a well-developed sense of phonemic awareness, must know the alphabetic principle, must be taught phonics through systematic and explicit instruction. Their message has been passed down through the ages. What is frightening is that the spin these people have put on their message today has convinced so many in positions of power and financial control that this narrow (and, I would argue, out of touch with the real world) view of literacy is the only pedagogy for the teaching of reading” (para 64).

Turbill, J. (2002, February). The four ages of reading philosophy and pedagogy: A framework for examining theory and practice. Reading Online, 5(6). Retrieved from http://www.readingonline.org/international/inter_index.asp?HREF=turbill4/index.html


“Phonological and phonemic awareness, for example, are being forced into a reductionist, experimental framework that treats these metalinguistic skills as somehow causally underlying learning to read” (p.1).

Jannuzi, C. (1999). Review of beginning to read and the spin doctors of science: The political campaign to change America's mind about how children learn to read by D. Taylor. Literacy across Cultures, 3(1).


“ … we learn to read by making sense of what is on the page, and our knowledge of phonemic awareness, phonics, and the ability to read lists of words in isolation is the result of learning to read by reading (p.46).”.

Krashen, S. (2010). The Goodman/Smith hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the comprehension hypothesis, and the (even stronger) case for free voluntary reading). In P. Anders (Ed.), Defying convention, inventing the future in literacy research and practice: Essays in tribute to Ken and Yetta Goodman. New York: Routledge. pp. 46-60. Retrieved from http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/many_hypothesis.pdf.


“Accuracy, correctly naming or identifying each word or word part in a graphic sequence, is not necessary for effective reading since the reader can get the meaning without accurate word identification…. Furthermore, readers who strive for accuracy are likely to be inefficient”. p.826.

Goodman, K. S. (1974, Sept). Effective teachers of reading know language and children. Elementary English, 51, 823-828.


“Rarely do we interrupt the flow of meaning (when we read) to identify a particular word”.

Newman, J.M. (1985). Using children’s books to teach reading. In J.M. Newman (Ed.), Whole language: Theory and in use (pp.55-64). Portsmouth, NJ: Heinemann.


“When Josie doesn't know a word she asks what it is, and remembers it the next time she sees it, as do all early readers. They pause at a word, are told what it is, then move along quickly. They extrapolate, through the logic of language, what the other words will be in the sentence they're reading, and confirm their hunches by looking at the print.”

Fox, M. (2005). Phonics has a phoney role in the literacy wars. Sydney Morning Herald, . 16/8/2005

http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/phonics-has-a-phoney-role-in-the-literacy-wars/2005/08/15/1123958006652.html


"A small group of people thinks that making sense of text depends first on identifying words.... They talk to each other; they are not talking to teachers or to researchers in cognition" (p. 12).

Ken Goodman quoted in Rothman, R. (1992, January 8). Studies cast doubt on benefits of using only whole language to teach reading. Education Week, 12.


“But if in fact you are not making errors when you read, you are probably not reading efficiently, you are processing more visual information than you need.”

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: The never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


"...it is best to avoid the common sense notion that what the reader was supposed to have read was printed on the page" (p. 60).

Goodman, Y., Burke, C.L., & Watson, D.J. (1987). Reading Miscue Inventory: Alternative Procedures. New York: Richard C. Owen.


"One word in five can be completely eliminated from most English texts with scarcely any effect on its overall comprehensibility" (p. 79).

Smith, F. (1973). Psvchology and reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.


“In turn his sense of syntactic structure and meaning make it possible to predict the graphic input so he is largely selective, sampling the print to confirm his prediction (p.9).

Goodman, K.S. (1973). Miscue analysis: Applications to reading instruction. Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of English.


“Don't expect word perfect reading. … This is acceptable. … We want them to make mistakes. We want them to know that reading is not saying the words right. We want them to know that reading is getting meaning from the printed page. … Learn the difference between good mistakes and bad mistakes. Good mistakes occur when the meaning of the story is not changed. For example, a child who substitutes the word children for the words kids in the sentence: "The kids are on the playground." has made a good mistake. … Don't try to correct this type of error. … Remember substitutions and omissions are normal.”

Failure Free Reading (2005). 30 Ways to Improve Your Child's Reading. See at http://www.failurefree.com/downloads/30Ways.pdf

 

5. A whole language belief is that research and accountability are unnecessary. Below are some examples:

 

“(Teachers are) wise to the often tortuous attempts of educational, psychological, and cognitive researchers to cloak themselves in the sometimes ill-fitting garb of ‘science.’”

Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Bizar, M. (1999, March). Sixty years of reading research -- But who's listening? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved December 4, 2004, from http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kzem9903.htm


“It seems futile to try to demonstrate superiority of one teaching method over another by empirical research” (p.220).

Weaver, C. (1988). Reading process & practice: From socio-psycholinguistics to whole language Portsmouth, NJ: Heinemann.


“Only one kind of research has anything useful to say about literacy, and that is ethnographic or naturalistic research” (p. 356)

Smith, K. (1989). Overselling literacy. Phi Delta Kappan, 70, 353-359.


Whole language "constitutes a different view of education, language, and learning; uses different discourse; maintains different values; and emanates from a different educational community" from those who support the scientific method of studying these issues” (Edelsky, 1990, p. 7).

Edelsky, C. (1990). Whose agenda is this anyway? A response to McKenna, Robinson, and Miller. Educational Researcher, 19(8), 7-11.


“The view of “evidence–based research” (ebr) is narrow & extremist.”

Cambourne, B. (No date). My response to The National Inquiry. http://www.literacyeducators.com.au/docs/Response%20to%20Inquiry%20BC.ppt


“Through a series of sham scientific panels and reports they have established that there is a simple solution to the literacy crisis supported by a consensus of the scientific community and that the crisis is so great that it warrants federal interventions in the schools right down to the class room levels”.

Goodman, K. (2002). When the fail proof reading programs fail, blow up the Colleges of Education. Retrieved December 4, 2004, from http://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~acody/goodman.html


“Experimental research is limited in value with regard to education”.

Weaver, C., Patterson, L, Ellis, L, Zinke, S., Eastman, P., & Moustafa, M. (1997). "Big Brother" and reading instruction. Retrieved fromhttp://www.m4pe.org/elsewhere.htm


"In my inaugural [Convention] address I called for a greater separation between school and state and the emancipation of education from the arbitrariness of political pressures. I advanced the idea that schools, like religion and the press, needed the protection of something like a Constitutional amendment to keep education free of interference in matters of materials, methods, and curriculum from the winds of political change and the passing hysterias of public opinion." (NCTE president, Sheridan Blau)

National Council of Teachers of English. (1999). Elementary school practices. Retrieved December 4, 2004, from http://ncte.org


“Conservatives look to education mainly to supply basic skills for a competent labor force -- skills taught one at a time and tested by standardized, impersonal instruments -- while progressives want school mainly to nurture active citizens and creative individuals. … When research is touted … this old, ongoing debate is probably the subtext”.

Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Bizar, M. (1999, March). Sixty years of reading research -- But who's listening? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved fromhttp://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kzem9903.htm


6. A whole language belief inconsistent with research is what to do when students struggle. Below are some examples

 

“The first alternative and preference is - to skip over the puzzling word. The second alternative is to guess what the unknown word might be. And the final and least preferred alternative is to sound the word out. Phonics, in other words, comes last.”

Smith, F. (1999). Why systematic phonics and phonemic awareness instruction constitute an educational hazard. Language Arts, 77, 150-155.


“Good spelling is merely a convenience. … There are some people like secretaries, who need to be accurate, but usually even they can use a word processor with a good spelling check."

Gentry, J.R. (1987).Spel . . . is a four-letter word. Portsmouth: Heinemann.


"Children must develop reading strategies by and for themselves" (p. 178).

Weaver, C. (1988). Reading process and practice. Exeter, NH: Heinemann.


“The best we can do ... is ... to ensure that, if not every child lives up to our hopes, there is a minimum of guilt and anguish on the part of teachers, students, and parents.” (p.441)

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: the never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


“If children experience difficulty in learning particular things ... they must be shown more patience and sensitivity” (p. 441)

Smith, F. (1992). Learning to read: The never-ending debate. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 432-441.


“Using grapho-phonic cues, therefore, as the first method of dealing with a problem often interferes with understanding ... it is better that children predict meaning from other cues at the outset and use their knowledge of the relationships of letters and sounds for confirmation” (p. 48).

New Zealand Department of Education (1985). Reading in junior classes: With guidelines to the revised Ready to Read Series. Wellington: Author.


“Should teachers find that children are not progressing as readers, the most significant intervention they can make is to find texts which allow children to restore sound functioning”.

Education Department of South Australia. (1984). Early Literacy In-service Course: Matching children with books. South Australia: Education Department of South Australia.


"I do have to say that I am just sick to death of teachers being blamed," Ms Fox said. "I am so tired of that. If parents don't enjoy their children enough to read to them, if they don't make the time to do that with their kids, then whether they be rich or poor, disadvantaged or advantaged, if they don't make that time to love their children enough to do that for them, then they will not learn to read happily, quickly and easily.

Chilcott, T. (2012). Well-known children's author Mem Fox says parents key to children's literacy as teachers want funding redirected The Courier-Mail December 15. Retrieved from http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/well-known-childrens-author-mem-fox-says-parents-key-to-childrens-literacy-as-teachers-want-funding-redirected/story-e6freoof-1226537130870?sv=e86f88940a956746714e2e3e833e784b


7. A lack of professional courtesy to opposing viewpoints makes reasoned debate difficult. Also known as ad hominem attacks.

 

"At a meeting of the International Reading Association four years ago Ken Goodman attacked Marilyn Adams [a phonics advocate] as a 'vampire' who threatened the literacy of America's youth" (p. 42).

Levine, A. (1994, December). The great debate revisited. Atlantic Monthly, 38-44.


Distar Reading Mastery has been reviled by traditional educators (having been labeled by both David Weikart and Kenneth Goodman as the thalidomide of reading programs).”

Engelmann, S. (1999). Phonemic awareness in Reading Mastery.  Effective School Practices, 17(3), 43.


“Where there is political interference there are lobby groups, and one that has become very strong during this era includes those who never quite left the focus on the skills such as explicit decoding. These groups have been beavering away, many with their own small research projects that prove categorically that children must have a well-developed sense of phonemic awareness, must know the alphabetic principles, and must be taught phonics through systematic and explicit instruction. Their message has been passed down since the 60s. What is frightening is that the spin these people have put on their message today has convinced so many in positions of power and financial control that this narrow (and, we would argue, out of touch with the real world) view of literacy is the only pedagogy for the teaching of literacy (Teaching Reading Report, 2005)” (p.23).

Cambourne, B. & Turbill, J. (2007). Looking back to look forward: Understanding the present by revisiting the past: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Progressive Education, 3(2), 8-29.


“Sadly, because of the money to be made from phonics programs, and the ease with which these programs can be tested and ‘researched’ phonics has been claimed in the USA in particular to have been ‘scientifically proven’ to be the best method to teach reading. If we scratch a quick-fix, sure-fire method of ‘curing’ reading difficulties we will often (but not always) find behind it a core group from an education publishing house, or a government department, or an institute in a university which stands to gain massively, financially, from their endeavours.”

Fox, M. (2008). The folly of jolly old phonics: A phonics tale of three children (with morals for teachers of reading). http://www.memfox.com/the-folly-of-jolly-old-phonics.html


Teachers are … “wise to the often tortuous attempts of educational, psychological, and cognitive researchers to cloak themselves in the sometimes ill-fitting garb of ‘science’.” … the interlocking directorate of the right-wing back-to-basics movement: John Saxon, Chester Finn, William Bennett, Diane Ravitch, Jeanne Chall, Charles Sykes.”

Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Bizar, M. (1999, March). Sixty years of reading research -- But who's listening? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved December 4, 2004, fromhttp://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kzem9903.htm


“It just seems to me that the real "Nation at Risk" involves the threat to the control of public education by conservatives who fear the future and employ phonics and testing to cripple the youth of today. I don't see this as an idle exercise in pedagogical thought. There is a reason why disinformation is promulgated by conservatives against public education. I have written here before about the "commoditization of children" as part of this process to turn the populace into little more than tractable farm animals as "labor inputs" for an international elite.”

Martin, M. (2008). Reading first fails. Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency.


“It (direct instruction) is a scripted pedagogy for producing compliant, conformist, competitive students and adults.”

Coles, G. (1998, Dec. 2). No end to the reading wars. Education Week Retrieved from

http://www.edweek.org/ew/vol-18/14coles.h18


“Now the forces aiming to destroy social justice and limit democracy have learned to use their money and power and the processes of democratic institutions to accomplish their goals. They no longer confront, they co-opt and subvert the very groups whose interests they attack. They don t stand in the school house door, they close down the failing neighborhood schools using test scores as their bludgeons.”

Goodman, K. (2002). When the fail proof reading programs fail, blow up the Colleges of Education. Retrieved December 4, 2004, fromhttp://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~acody/goodman.html


“How is it that Reid Lyon, of whom most of us never heard before this year, has become the media superstar on reading? The best way to make sense of this is to view it through Chomsky's notion of manufactured consent: a concerted and strategic campaign to manipulate and instruct public opinion.”

National Council of Teachers of English. (1999). Elementary school practices. Retrieved from http://ncte.org.


“His (Reid Lyon) whole 15 minute presentation is an amazing set of lies, clichés, and exaggerations.”

Goodman, K. (2002). When the fail proof reading programs fail, blow up the Colleges of Education. Retrieved December 4, 2004, from http://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~acody/goodman.html


"The political Far Right's agenda is well-served," she writes, "by promoting docility and obedience-on the part of the lower classes." Ultraconservatives advocate phonics teaching because it is authoritarian, she says, and serves to socialize "nonmainstream students, especially those in so-called lower ability groups or tracks . . . into subordinate roles."

Weaver, C. (1994). Reading process and practice. Portsmouth: Heinemann.


According to Weaver, who directed the Commission on Reading for the National Council of Teachers of English in the late 1980s, right-wing extremists believe that kids who study phonics will get "the words 'right'" and thus read what the Bible actually says rather than approximate its meaning. Moreover, she writes, "Teaching intensive phonics. . . . is also a way of keeping children's attention on doing what they're told and keeping them from reading or thinking for themselves."

Weaver, C. (1994). Reading process and practice. Portsmouth: Heinemann.


”The research the (National Reading) panels summarized excluded 95 percent of the important reading research, including my own 40 years of research.

Goodman, K. (2004). No: The Whole-language method really works and has led to a golden age of children's literature. Insight on the News - Symposium Issue, 8(47), p.8, 3/30/04. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/12620363/no-whole-language-method-really-works-has-led-golden-age-childrens-literature


“The antagonism of the Christian Right to these (WL) programs is based on a fear of losing control over their children's thinking, rather than any compelling empirical data.”

Berliner, D.C. (1996). Educational psychology meets the Christian right: Differing views of children, schooling, teaching, and learning. Retrieved from http://courses.ed.asu.edu/berliner/readings/differingh.htm


"Whole language teachers need not be defensive or apologetic. They believe in kids, respect them as learners, cherish them in all their diversity, and treat them with love and dignity. That's a lot better than regarding children as empty pots that need filling, as blobs of clay that need moulding, or worse, as evil little troublemakers forever battling teachers." p. 25

Goodman, K. (1986). What’s whole in whole language. Portsmouth, NH : Heinemann.


8. Rewriting the research findings that find whole language lacking.

 

“The research overwhelmingly favors holistic, literature-centered approaches to reading. Indeed, the proof is massive and overwhelming.”

Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Bizar, M. (1999, March). Sixty years of reading research -- But who's listening? Phi Delta Kappan 80(7), 513-17. fromhttp://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kzem9903.htm


"The notion that an emphasis primarily on skills and phonics instruction produces superior results to programs centered on providing children with a lot of interesting and comprehensible texts is not supported by the available evidence" (p. 66).

McQuillan, J. (1998). The literacy crisis: False claims, real solutions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


“The phonics / whole language binary is one that has no meaning, except for some ideologically blinkered and extreme advocates of phonics” (p.3).

Australian Association for the Teaching of English (undated). Phonics & educational research: Editorial

“Reading the Riot Act: Critical literacy is about indoctrination, not education”,The Australian, 5 September 2007. Retrieved from www.aate.org.au/files/documents/They%20Said%20What/UWS%20paper.pdf


“Research has shown that reading to your child especially after they are in the third grade or higher will actually improve their reading as much as having them read by themselves.”

Failure Free Reading (2005). 30 ways to improve your child's reading at http://www.failurefree.com/downloads/30Ways.pdf


”Though many critics see whole language as a passing fad, its principles are based on more than 20 years of research on language learning from around the world” (p.72).

Routman, R. (1997). Back to the basics of whole language. Educational Leadership, 54(5), 70-74.


"When you rely on evidence, it's twisted. We can also present evidence but we never get a fair hearing. We rely on the cognitive science framing theory, to frame things the way you want the reader to understand them to be true - framing things that you're passionate about in ways that reveal your passion." Because of the way whole language has been framed by people like MULTILIT, we don't get anywhere. We have to use the same kind of tactics that have been used to demean and demonise whole language."

Ferrari, J. (2009). Teachers in 'subliminal' bid to bar phonics. The Australian, March 19, 2009.


 

9. The problem is not in instruction, blame others

"While instruction can profoundly influence children and their approach to reading the best way to explain large-scale differences in reading achievement is first to focus on the access to reading materials."

McQuillan, J. (1998). The literacy crisis: False claims, real solutions. Publisher’s review.Retrieved December 4, 2004, from http://www.languagebooks.com/2.0/books/literacycrisis.html


“Don't be upset if they have trouble understanding all of this. The main thing is to have them become aware of just how confusing our language is.”

Failure Free Reading (2005). 30 Ways to Improve Your Child's Reading at http://www.failurefree.com/downloads/30Ways.pdf


“Though whole language is taking the brunt of what's gone wrong in reading and writing, there is no simple solution. Where whole language plays a role, it has been the misinterpretation, poor application, and inadequate articulation of whole language, rather than its sound principles and practices, that are to blame. Though many critics see whole language as a passing fad, its principles are based on more than 20 years of research on language learning from around the world”.

Routman, R. (1997). Back to the basics of whole language. Educational Leadership, 54(5) 70-74.


Mem Fox firmly warns that “if parents are not reading to their child regularly at home between the ages of 0-5, if possible daily, then they have a nerve to think that teachers can do it.” … Author and illustrator Gus Gordon believes that it is the “parent’s obligation to teach kids to read, no other way around it.”

Pete, J. (2013). Who should teach our kids to read? Essential Kids, July 23, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.essentialkids.com.au/entertaining-kids/parenting-and-childrens-books/who-should-teach-our-kids-to-read-20130723-2qfm3.html


10. Whole Language Lives On

“We speak out and proudly identify ourselves as whole language teachers” (p. 41).

Goodman, D. (2007). The Whole Language Movement in Detroit: A Teacher's Story. In M. Taylor (Ed.), Whole language teaching, whole-hearted practice: Looking back, looking forward. NJ: Peter Lang.


From Australian Robyn Ewing Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts at the University of Sydney.

“Competent, experienced readers sample just enough visual information to feel satisfied that they have grasped the meaning so far of whatever text they are reading. … An overemphasis on lettersound relationships can be very confusing for children learning to read.” (para 10)

“I agree with eminent Australian literacy educators and educational researchers Emmitt, Hornsby and Wilson who explain that the:

Three important sources of information in text are meaning, grammar and lettersound relationships – often referred to as semantics, syntax and graphophonic relationships respectively. Emmitt, Hornsby and Wilson (2013, p.3)

These sources, or cueing systems, work together simultaneously. Overemphasis on any one cueing system when learning to read is not effective.” (para 11-13)

Ewing, R. (2016). Teaching literacy is more than teaching simple reading skills: It can’t be done in five easy steps. EduResearch Matters. Retrieved from http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=1532


 

“Whole language is still with us, strongly embedded in current curriculum, pedagogy and assessment strategies. Adversaries of whole language still complain that the term whole language may not be used however the philosophy is alive and well in each state system … An outcome of this inclusiveness was a move away from using the term whole language and simply using literacy. To us the principles underpinning the word literacy were similar but did not bring with it the negative connotations” (p.23).

Cambourne, B. & Turbill, J. (2007). Looking back to look forward: Understanding the present by revisiting the past: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Progressive Education, 3(2), 8-29.


“But if “five essential components” appears anywhere on the menu of instructional activities, does that mean we have a scientifically-based reading program? Alas, no. Whole language and its offspring have not been so easily deposed. Rather than fight the five components, trendy reading gurus have placed them under the banner of “balanced instruction” while continuing to promote the same misconceived and disproved practices of yore.Today, therefore, reading curricula such as Four Blocksand Guided Reading,as well as programs that adopt the whole language fig leaf known as “balanced literacy,” thrive still. Each claim that its approaches and materials square with SBRR (scientifically-based reading research), but this is a ruse” (p.13).

Moats, L. (2007). Whole-Language high jinks: How to tell when “scientifically-based reading instruction” isn’t. Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Retrieved from www.edexcellence.net/publications/wholelanguage.html


 

11. Does WL work?

 

See Part 1: What was that all about?

 

 In short, it was a disaster for many students- the effects of which are still felt today on our children's literacy. A couple of pithy quotes:

 

Hattie’s meta-analysis gives whole language an effect size of 0.06, and phonics an effect size of 0.54.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge


 

“We now know that the whole-language approach is inefficient; all children regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds benefit from explicit and early teaching of the correspondences between letters and speech sounds. This is a well-established fact, corroborated by a great many classroom experiments. Furthermore, it is coherent with our present understanding of how the reader’s brain works” (p. 326).

Dehaene, S. (2009). Reading in the brain: The science and evolution of a human invention. New York: Viking/Penguin.


“The way we went down the road to whole language is really a story of stupidity”.

Reid Lyon, G. (2005). Children of the Code Interview. Retrieved from http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/lyon.htm#WholeLanguage

 


 

 

12. Does teacher education reflect or dispute these whole language perspectives?

 

What perspectives are provided in teacher education these days?

Below taken from: NCTQ. (2006). What education schools aren’t teaching about reading, and what elementary teachers aren’t learning. National Council on Teacher Quality, Washington, D.C. (p. 29-31)

 

How reading skill develops

“Children acquire the ability to read and write as a result of life experiences”.

— Excerpt from required text reading. Lesley Morrow (2005) Literacy Development in the Early Years: “Helping Children Read and Write.

 

"New views of emerging literacy see children as an [sic] active participant in the interactive process of becoming readers and writers…. Literacy is “holistic” in nature and includes a child-centered environment that encourages active learning and quality children’s literature”.

— A professor’s statement of belief for a course in a large public university in the South.

 

“Teachers have confidence that children who have continuous, meaningful, and sensitively guided experiences with print will eventually become accomplished readers and writers”.

— Excerpt from required text reading. Michael O’Donnell and Margo Wood (2004) Becoming a Reader: A Developmental Approach to Reading Instruction.

 

“[You will] effectively utilize a diverse body of young children’s literature to promote literacy development….”

—One of the course objectives for a course at a public Midwestern university

 

“Try to ascertain meaning as efficiently as possible using minimal time and energy…literacy develops naturally in all children in our literate society”.

—Excerpt from required text reading. Essay by Yetta Goodman (1987) The Emergence of Literacy.

 

“Identify and implement children’s literature in the teaching of phonics”.

—An assignment for an early reading course (not children’s literature) at a large southern public university.

 


 

How best to promote reading skill?

“There is no one best way to assess and teach reading/writing instruction”.

— A professor’s statement of belief at a rural public college in the West.

 

“Articulate your own philosophy of literacy and how people become literate”.

— An assignment at a Midwestern public university.

 

“While all teachers operate under various instructional constraints, you will ultimately develop your own theories about how best to teach reading and writing”.

— A course objective from a large western public university.

 

“[The student will] identify his/her own conceptual framework for reading and explain how it is reflected in the instructional practices he/she favors”.

— An expected course outcome at a southern sectarian college.

 

“[Teachers will] begin to shape and articulate their own theory and practice about the teaching/learning of all the language arts, and specifically reading and writing at the elementary school level”.

— Course goal from a small eastern private college.

 

“Students will explore a variety of philosophies related to early literacy learning and will be able to articulate and defend their own philosophy”.

— Course goal for a course at a large university in Florida.

 

“While all teachers operate under various constraints, you will ultimately develop your own theories about how best to teach reading and writing”.

— A goal for a course at a large western state university.

 

Sounds like whole language and constructivism to me!

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