The Long and Tired History of Media-Driven Reading Wars

Consider the following excerpts from a scholarly journal of literacy. The articles included are responses from literary scholars to a political and media claim of a reading crisis. First from Emmett A. Betts: Next, from William S. Gray: And then, from Lou LaBrant: Finally, Paul Witty: These patterns may seem familiar in 2023 to anyone … Continue reading The Long and Tired History of Media-Driven Reading Wars

Reimagining the Teaching of English

Published in The High School Journal (May 1951) by Dorothy McCuskey, a review of Lou LaBrant‘s most comprehensive work on teaching English, We Teach English, concluded: “In short, this is no ‘how to teach’ book. Rather, it is a book which will cause the reader to re-examine the bases of his [sic] teaching methods and … Continue reading Reimagining the Teaching of English

Dismantling the “Science of Reading” and the Harmful Reading Policies in its Wake [UPDATED]

After emailing me about new reading legislation being proposed in North Carolina—next door to my home state of South Carolina that also has jumped on the “science of reading” bandwagon—Ann Doss Helms of WFAE (NPR, Charlotte, NC) interviewed me by phone. I have given dozens of interviews about education over the last 15 to 20 … Continue reading Dismantling the “Science of Reading” and the Harmful Reading Policies in its Wake [UPDATED]

The Enduring Influence of the National Reading Panel (and the “D” Word)

What do the National Reading Panel (NRP) report (2000), A Nation at Risk (1983), and the seminal “word gap” study by Hart and Risley (1992/1995) have in common? First, each of these has become a recurring citation in mainstream media when addressing reading (NRP), school accountability (A Nation at Risk), and literacy (“word gap”). Next, and quite troubling … Continue reading The Enduring Influence of the National Reading Panel (and the “D” Word)

What Shall We Do About Reading Today?: Looking Back to See Now More Clearly

The November 1942 issue of The Elementary English Review (National Council of Teachers of English) included a provocative piece: What Shall We Do About Reading Today?: A Symposium. The opening editorial comment frames the need for the question: This symposium offers answers to the titular question from leading literacy experts of the time: Emmett A. … Continue reading What Shall We Do About Reading Today?: Looking Back to See Now More Clearly

On Pedagogy and Expertise: Enduring False Dichotomies in Education

English educator Lou LaBrant taught in a wide variety of contexts for 65 years while also producing a significant body of scholarship from the 1920s into the late 1980s. Her career was nearly as prodigious as her attitude. Writing in 1931, for example, LaBrant announces: “The cause for my wrath is not new or single” … Continue reading On Pedagogy and Expertise: Enduring False Dichotomies in Education

Teaching Poetry with Fidelity: “Does it matter?”

My take on Sandra Cisneros’s “Eleven” has always focused on the callousness of her math teacher and the subsequent marginalizing of Rachel, who represents for me all students and especially vulnerable students. Due to both historical and recent (the accountability movement) pressures, teachers fail when they see their work as teaching content instead of teaching students. … Continue reading Teaching Poetry with Fidelity: “Does it matter?”

Beware the Technocrats: More on the Reading Wars

Since it is Academy Awards season, let me start with film as context. Whiplash has received a great deal of Oscars buzz with five significant nominations. But that film praise is interesting to frame against a review that considers how the film’s topic, jazz, is portrayed: The mediocre jazz in Damien Chazelle’s new film, “Whiplash,” … Continue reading Beware the Technocrats: More on the Reading Wars

Teacher Quality, Wiggins and Hattie: More Doing the Wrong Things the Right Ways

In a blog titled “To my critics” as a follow up to his critique of Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Errors, Grant Wiggins seeks to clarify his central arguments: My point was merely to ask those who speak only of forces outside of our immediate control as educators to attend to what is not only in … Continue reading Teacher Quality, Wiggins and Hattie: More Doing the Wrong Things the Right Ways