"We teach children to mimic the behaviors of good readers without the conditions (background knowledge) that make those behaviors work."
It always amazes me how this blog seems to reflect conversations I'm having with a good friend of mine who is also a teacher. We talk non-stop about education. Just two days ago we were talking about this, which seems especially prevalent in high school remedial reading courses. Since these kids are perceived to be able to "read" (that is, say out loud the collection of letters on the page), the idea seems to be that they just aren't concentrating hard enough - or as mentioned mimicking the behavior of good readers well enough - and teaching them that should take care of the problem.
As for "Best Practices," I've often thought it was a very Orwellian phrase, and could go right up there with:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
WORST PRACTICES ARE BEST PRACTICES
A teacher from Australia shared a refreshingly honest "standard" for First grade reading there:
"engages in reading-like behavior"
Well, if it is "reading-like" it is, by definition, not reading, just as "catlike movements" are movements of some animal other than a cat.
And here's Robert Pondiscio:
I may have to start calling our reliance on “reading strategies” instruction “Cargo Cult Reading.” Its entire point is to teach children “what good readers do” and the habits of mind that are reflexive to able readers. It’s the exactly the same thing–you teach kids to mimic the behaviors that lead to comprehension–but without the background knowledge that actually makes it possible. Indeed, a staple of strategy instruction is to teach children that good readers ”activate their prior knowledge to create mental images, ask questions, and make inferences.” How exactly does that work in the absence of prior knowledge to activate?
Imitation of Life, by the way, is one of Douglas Sirk's great films. I must have watched it a dozen times in graduate school.
Allison on Cargo Cult education
Vicky S on developmentally inappropriate education