Are We Thinking About Reading Comprehension All Wrong?

(Mind/Shift) Educators and parents are obsessed with reading; and the emphasis has only grown in recent decades as reading became a defining indicator of academic success on standardized tests. Yet despite the obsession with teaching reading in the early grades, many educators don’t fully understand how the brain reads, writes Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, in a New York Times op-ed.

Willingham has long studied the best ways to teach reading and has noticed that factual knowledge often gets left out of the reading comprehension equation. Well-intentioned teachers help kids learn to decode words, but can’t understand why so many kids have trouble comprehending what they read. Willingham contends that lack of knowledge about the subject of the reading is a big culprit.

Kids are generally tested on reading comprehension as a separate skill, divorced from any subject they’ve learned about, and that favors kids who come to school with more prior knowledge — often wealthier kids. Willingham has some concrete ideas about how districts and schools can rethink reading curriculum to solve this problem. Read Article

Tales2go note: apart from excellent suggestions in the article,word knowledge is derived from repeated exposure to spoken words – stories that provide context and understanding of people and places.

Publication:      Mind/Shift (KQED)
Author:             Katrina Schwartz
Publish Date:   11.28.2017