Corroborative evidence for why kids disengage from learning to read

This is in response to Tweets from Emily Hanford of APM Reports and Geraldine Carter of Piper Books.

On 14.6.2020 I tweeted the following:

No child will struggle to learn to read if the Consonant sounds are taught correctly.
and then let us discuss this.

Emily Hanford of APM Reports whom I had written emails to in 2017 tweeted as follows:

This will contribute to many children's struggles, but it's just one piece. There's much more to why kids struggle. And much more that needs to be done to prevent reading failure.

I decided to ignore it, telling myself that if this woman can still write the above after reading my emails and my tweets she must be working for people with a vested interest.

But then, Geraldine Carter from Piper Books who is marketing some reading programmes and is an advocate of SSP who decided to poke her nose in and said the following.

It certainly is only one piece and probably very simplistic to think it is the most important solution. Academics and writers campaigning for evidence-based instruction are inundated with those overblowing one piece of the jigsaw.

I really don’t know if they don’t understand or are just interested in marketing their products. I have  time and again said that my blog posts deal with shut-down kids who have been wrongly classified as dyslexic. They are instructional casualties and form a majority of the kids classified as dyslexic.

I have clearly explained why they shut down and have backed up my finding with pieces of corroborative evidence.

I urge teachers and parents interested in putting an end to the Reading Wars to think about the following.

I have worked in the audit line until the age of 52 when I decided to do ‘research’ on why smart kids could not read in English. I have taught more than 70 kids on a one on one basis since 2004.

My first student is now studying at a university in Adelaide doing a double degree. A few are in universities in Malaysia. These were kids who came to me in primary 2 and 3 without being able to read even a single sentence in English but were able to read in Malay.

It was from them that I learned that they had shut down from learning to read due to confusion.

Corroborative evidence

1.       Dr. David Kilpatrick had said in his book ‘Equipped for reading success’ the following: In a large study conducted by scientists from the State University of New York at Albany, researchers were able to reduce the number of children who require ongoing remediation from the national average of 30% to about 2 %.

2.       In another study by researchers at Florida State University they showed how the most severely reading disabled students could reach grade level – and stay there- using a surprisingly brief intervention program. These examples question the inevitability of widespread reading failure.

The above shows that these kids had disengaged from learning to read and would have ended up as illiterate if not for intervention.

3.       From my discussion with Dr. Richard Selznick I quote him saying “I agree with you (Luqman) that many of these kids are instructional casualties and if they had been taught differently, many would not have shut down”.

He told me that a majority of his thousands of patients, who could not read, pronounced the consonants with extraneous sounds.

4.       Dr. Reid Lyon said ‘All of these kids that I had tried to teach and who didn’t do well had by nine years of age already begun to avoid the reading process because they couldn’t do it.’

5.       ‘Failure to read is often to do with the nature of teaching rather than the nature of the child’ (Rose 2009)

6.       ‘They think they are a failure. They think there’s something wrong with them (but) there is something wrong with our teaching not with the child, and with the proper intervention and teaching, we can do so much’. (Dr. Maryanne Wolf)

7.       ‘If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught, and that it’s not a question of the learner’s ability, it’s a question of the teacher’s ability. These kids are capable of learning, certainly at different rates, but learning anything we want to teach them. (Engelmann.)

It should be clear from the above that a majority of kids shut down from learning to read and are wrongly classified as dyslexic.

The questions we need to ask ourselves are:

i.                     Why did they shut down from learning to read?
ii.                   What happened during the intervention period?
iii.                 Could these kids have been prevented from shutting down in the first place?

What do I mean by shutting down?

Shutting down means, kids disengage from learning to read.

These are the kids who find excuses for not reading when called upon by teachers. They are the smart kids who misbehave in class due to shame avoidance.

Just like the construction of buildings that I spoke about in my previous post it does not matter how well we teach subsequently. If a child has shut down, he will not pay attention to what the teacher teaches.

These kids will more often than not excel in non-reading subjects like mathematics. 

I repeat; the root cause of kids shutting down is the teaching of consonants wrongly which leads to confusion.

This is the piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is being overlooked by scientists and researchers who want to end the reading wars.