[AAACE-NLA] Reading Wars Starting in Adult Literacy
gdemetrion at msn.com
gdemetrion at msn.com
Thu Jan 5 07:26:59 EST 2006
And from the web site Daphne provided us, a collection of book reviews, which in itself is worthy of careful study: http://www.aaanet.org/cae/aeq/br/index.htm
In terms of the reading wars, at least in terms of my practice, I take what I consider a realistic and useful pragmatic approach. Thus, in my tutor training manual, I include the Four components of reading put out by the Partnership for Reading (I believe)-Alphabetics, Vocabulary development, Fluency, and Reading, while at the same time including a summary of Purcell-Gates' FOB article on balanced reading theory. I also include materials on Dewey's interactive learning theory on the relationship between the students, the instructor, the text and the contexts of students lives, including an acknowledgement of the socio-cultural environment of our schooling context, using the model (pace Dewey) of the "good school. I also drawn principles of adult learning from a Rhode Island source that I downloaded, which draws out much more the socio-cultural context underlying a social practices approach to adult literacy education. Then I go into a fair amount of specifics on reading using the four part PFR model as a frame to integrate a wide range of info on methodologies and approaches from phonemic awareness to reading strategies. There is also a section of writing that includes both process writing approaches and more structured ones on topic, supportive and concluding sentence. The instructional materials, a wide array pf both skill and content based materials organized in three ring binders according to levels provides the curriculum focus that seeks to give concrete shape to what is discussed in the training manual.
In terms of practice I believe this pragmatic, "common sense" approach works as well as anything else, if not better. Now in terms of theory, that's a different issue in that the relationship between the PFR approach and other approaches stemming from the academy or critical practice, namely critical pedagogy, social practices, and functional-context theory would need to be closely evaluated. That also is important work, which in my view should not be lightly dismissed. However, I think there is a fundamental gap between critical practice and theory based on their own respective logics in which the twain may occasionally meet. However, I think it's an illusion of grand proportions to assume that any "theory-to-practice continuum is (a) inherently valuable (it may not be), and (b) the primary purpose f either practice or theory to aspire to. I would argue that it is one potential area for both and such work in specific settings might prove quite fruitful, though perhaps such convergence is not the primary work of either, in which both practitioners and theorists might be better served concentrating first on further fleshing out the respective implications of their work. There very el may be, and are, border crossers who can traverse these to realms and I view such work as highly important. However, I don't think it should be elevated as the acme of what practice and theory at their best is all about. In short, I would recommend a profound de-romanticizaton of the theory-to-practice continuum. Then perhaps more solid work will emerge in both realms and the angularities as well as the possible coherencies might be more thoughtfully considered.
----- Original Message -----
From: tsticht at znet.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 11:48 PM
To: aaace-nla at lists.literacytent.org
Subject: [AAACE-NLA] Reading Wars Starting in Adult Literacy
Aaace-nla Colleagues: Are we seeing the start of "reading wars" in adult
literacy education? Daphne Greenberg recently posted a book review by R.
Stainthorp that was critical of the approach to reading that Purcell-Gates,
Jacobson, and Degeneris take in their book on literacy practices of adult
learners. Now Eric Weiner has published an article taking issue with the
"componential" approach to adult reading taken by the Partnership for
Reading housed in the National Institute for Literacy and disseminated by
the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL)
Weiner's article is not available online to my knowledge but you should be
able to read it at your local research university. Tom Sticht
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