Threading together the sciences of reading

By Nicola Bell

 

Research that informs our collective understanding of literacy development is not conducted within one field of science. This is tricky, because it means that researchers working in different areas aren’t necessarily speaking the same language. As such, it’s not always obvious how various strands of evidence are woven together to form a coherent picture of the ‘science of reading’.

So, let’s get detangling. What exactly do people investigate to answer questions related to literacy development?

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Open letter to ACARA about the revised Australian Curriculum: English

Emeritus Professor Max Coltheart has prepared a letter to ACARA on behalf of the members of the Developmental Disorders of Language and Literacy (DDoLL) network, a group of reading researchers, cognitive scientists, teachers, principals, speech pathologists, linguists, and specialist practitioners who are concerned about effective instruction and intervention for all students.

The letter is published here and reproduced below. If you would like to support this letter by adding your name to the list of signatories, please send an email to <http://www.privatedaddy.com/?q=MxwPKzAGK0UqKDBxLCEJS2waazJZIA50NjA0dA-3D-3D_1001>

Other organisations and networks have distributed similar letters or encouraged their members to support the DDoLL letter. Please sign only one version.

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Curriculum takes backward step on the path to literacy

By Jennifer Buckingham

In the same week that federal education minister Alan Tudge reiterated his aspiration to take Australia back to the top of the international school education rankings, pointing to improved results in the United Kingdom and Poland for inspiration, the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has drawn its inspiration from elsewhere and released a proposed revision of the Australian Curriculum that doesn’t seem likely to move Australian schools in the desired direction of travel.

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Education needs to be informed by evidence

Innovation is always on the agenda in education but the COVID pandemic in 2020 made it a top priority. Many schools made a swift and more or less successful transition to online teaching. The schools that did this most successfully were largely those that were already high functioning schools, with strong collaborative teaching cultures and robust systems in place. The widespread adoption of technology for teaching was not a ‘disruptive’ force that changed the traditional stratifications in education systems.

This means that while much of the innovation during the COVID crisis was born out of the urgency to do something rather than nothing, over the longer term we need to think about innovation in a more analytical way. Most importantly, we must draw a distinction between innovation and experimentation. Not all seemingly bright ideas are good ideas – open plan classrooms and seating arrangements where students can’t see the teacher come to mind.

Education still needs to be evidence informed. Innovation is not an excuse to disregard everything we know about effective teaching and learning. Otherwise, doing something is not better than doing nothing.

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