An important article by Anne Castles, Kathleen Rastle and Kate Nation summarising the process of learning to read from novice to expert, and seeking to end the “reading wars”, has just been published.
It’s written in plain English and freely available online. It says that phonemic awareness and phonics are vital and central during the early stages of learning to read, but that a lot of other things are involved in becoming a proficient reader. Please read it and share the link around.
Of course, the media’s antennae tend to be tuned to conflict not consensus, so one newspaper reports this with the headline, “Call off the reading wars, phonics wins: study“. The ABC also interviewed one of the authors, Anne Castles, who said a lot of tremendously sensible things as she always does (you can hear her in a radio report here), and also sought comment from Dr Paul Gardner of Curtin University’s School of Education.
Re ending the “reading wars” he said that, “the problem was with those who advocate phonics as the only approach” and added that “They tend to be people with no classroom experience … from speech pathology, cognitive psychology and think tanks”.
Now, I know not everything is about me, but I reckon I’m probably one of the people he is talking about, since I write a widely-read blog about phonics and am a speech pathologist.
If I wrote a blog about cycling, I’d be very surprised to hear anyone claim I was advocating cycling as the only means of transport. If I wrote a blog about pineapples, I doubt anyone would infer that I was advocating a pineapples-only diet. Continue reading