Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

The View from the Edge: Rethinking a Few Ideas

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

The View from the Edge: Rethinking a Few Ideas

Article excerpt

Thinking is inquiry, investigation, turning over, probing or delving into, so as to find something new or to see what is already known in a different light. In short, it is questioning.

JOHN DEWEY, 1933, P. 265

Lewis Thomas wrote an enticing, thought-provoking book titled Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony (1995), which covers some controversial issues in the sciences and the humanities that are often confounded by the world of politics. More recently, a variation of this intertwined tension was the topic of an address by Yo-Yo Ma at the 26th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy (Ma, 2013). Re-reading Thomas's book and Ma's presentation (while listening to Pachelbel's Canon in D on my new iPod) inflamed my intellect and evoked bothersome thoughts. In essence, I think we need to apply a little of John Dewey's thinking/questioning to a few constructs in education, including the education of d/Deaf and hard of hearing students: Third Grade Guarantee, P-l2 Licensure, and critico-creative thinking skills. Specifically, we need to rethink or reconceptualize our views on these three constructs, and it might help if we do this with a "view from the edge"-which should become clearer via your reading of this editorial.

I suspect that most of us are becoming tired of hearing, reading, and thinking about the Common Core Standards, educational reform, the perils of video games, Race to the Top, all children should read on grade level by a certain year (actually, now 2014), la de la la-which have been the topics of recent articles in, for example, The New York Times (e.g., Hacker & Dreifus, 2013; Mehta, 2013; P. Paul, 2013). We seem to have so much testing and so little education, so much reform and so little progress, and too many video games and not much deep, reflective reading or thinking being valued. Okay, maybe I am being a little dramatic. Nevertheless, these items will simply not disappear soon, and should spawn debate on other related areas-three of which are discussed in this editorial.

The Common Core Standards have now been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. In my mind, this concept elicits a few others as I listen to the plucking violins of the Canon in D: No Child Left Behind, standardized testing, national curriculum, Race to the Top, and, in Ohio at least, the Third Grade Guarantee. The one-size-fits-all construct, discussed in a previous issue of the Annals (Moores, 2013; P V Paul, 2013a), could become one big nightmare.

Third Grade Guarantee

Let's focus on the Third Grade Guarantee, which, in my view, seems to be influenced by Keith Stanovich's construct, the "Matthew effects" (Stanovich, 1986; see also Stanovich, 2000)-albeit I do not really feel that our legislators actually read carefully many scholarly journal articles (okay, I know that was a little low . . . ). The Matthew effects are based on a Gospel passage (Matthew 25:29) in which Jesus asserts that, over time, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer (for another discussion, see P V. Paul & Wang, 2012). In this case, Stanovich is referring to struggling readers and good readers. Specifically, struggling readers not only continue to struggle, but lose ground as they get older. In essence, they avoid reading as much as possible. Good readers continue to grow, mainly because they read widely and voraciously.

At the risk of oversimplifying, let's state that Stanovich's thesis is that if one is not reading on grade/age level by the end of the optimal learning-to-read period-about third grade-then one is bound to fall farther and farther behind without intensive intervention, due to the increased language and cognitive demands of advanced reading materials that are encountered after third grade. Again, struggling readers will read less and less, mainly because they are not making much progress and are spiraling downward, given that reading is not fun or rewarding. …

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