Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A Rose is but ...
Another government report: 'Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties'! They’re churning them out faster than David Crystal can write books on language these days. Probably so that we don’t have time to read them thoroughly!
With this latest offering, we’re treated to the usual platitudes – 'every child to succeed', 'no quick fixes', 'research and best practice converge on the principles that define effective provision', 'young people with dyslexic difficulties generally do not read unless they have to' (p.10), children with reading difficulties need 'highly structured, sytematic' instruction, '...often' [I’m not sure about the 'little' referred to in the 'little and often'. It depends on the child.], and so on.
Then there's the gobbledegook! The report begins by asserting that it is broadly agreed that dyslexia exists. In actual fact, 'dyslexia' is still a highly controversial subject. There are no universally accepted and agreed criteria for establishing what 'dyslexia' might be, or whether someone is 'dyslexic, other than to say that they cannot read (or spell). Moreover, although it is universally agreed that there are many people in all English speaking countries who cannot read, many would maintain that the reason for their lack of success is attributable to poor teaching, rather than this being a problem with the individual.
We're also told that that 'different environmental experiences will influence the impact of genes, the severity of the reading difficulty and the long-term outcomes' (p.11). This is indeed shameful nonsense. Have we developed a gene for reading in the last couple of hundred years? And, if it is genetic, why are the problems responsible for causing 'dyslexia' mostly restricted to English speaking populations?
And, yes, Jim, the earlier that children who can't read and spell get the kind of teaching that enables them to read and spell, the better. That is why the Government should set about implementing the recommendations of the Rose Review (2006) and make sure that high quality phonics programmes are introduced into every school. Furthermore, schools should be encouraged to choose their own programmes, for which there should be proper and rigorous training, and the results strictly monitored through the medium of standardised tests.
Oh, and Reading Recovery should be scrapped.