In Defense of Good Teaching: What Teachers Need to Know about the "Reading Wars"

In Defense of Good Teaching: What Teachers Need to Know about the "Reading Wars"

In Defense of Good Teaching: What Teachers Need to Know about the "Reading Wars"

In Defense of Good Teaching: What Teachers Need to Know about the "Reading Wars"

Synopsis

In Defense of Good Teaching represents the whole language community's first concerted response to its attackers, revealing some disturbing truths in the reading wars: deliberate misrepresentation of ideas, about the role of the press, conflicting agendas played out in our schools, teachers and administrators marginalized for their beliefs, and commercial interests dressed up as scientific research. This alarming and enlightening book remains invaluable to teachers who want the means and strategies to respond to criticism, to analyze arguments and to defend their position."

Excerpt

Kenneth S. Goodman

Australians say, “It’s the tall poppies that get cut down.” and whole language has become a tall poppy indeed. It is the most powerful grassroots pedagogical movement ever to have developed in education. in North America it spreads from teacher to teacher until it has affected in some way the vast majority of classrooms. Its influence has spread throughout the English-speaking world; whole language has caught the imagination of educators in Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. I’m not suggesting that the majority of teachers in North America are whole language teachers. What I am suggesting is that whole language has had a profound influence on how curriculum, materials, methodology, and assessment are viewed. Publishers have had to rethink their textbooks and tests. Whole language has helped to redefine teaching and its relationship to learning. It has revealed that children, all of them, are powerful learners of written as well as oral language, that they are capable of using language to think, to learn, to solve problems. Given the opportunities of whole language classrooms, all of us have had to reevaluate our expectations of what children are capable of learning and doing.

It is the visible success of whole language, not its weaknesses, that has made it the major target of a powerful coalition of forces, which for varying reasons fear its success. Part of the power of whole language stems from the base of knowledge it builds on—bringing together constructivist psychology; functional linguistics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics; ethnography; literary theory; semiotics; and child development research and theory. Whole language integrates scientific knowledge and an understanding of how humans use language to make sense—to express and to comprehend meaning in both oral and written language. It is built on a respect for what young learners have already accomplished in their use of oral language and their awareness of written language when they come to school.

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