Thursday, 22 September 2016

They are ditching the Reading Recovery

program in the schools in a neighbouring state of Downunder. This does not particularly surprise me. It's an expensive program to run because it involves individual tuition.
For those of you who don't know anything about it the RR program is an early intervention program for beginner readers. If children are underachieving at the end of their first twelve months they are given  intensive, individual tuition in tailor made sessions with a specially trained teacher. It's expensive to run.
I have a good friend, now retired, who worked on this program through a university in the UK. She has lectured on it, written about it, trained teachers to use it and worked with children  who were in need of extra help. 
The Senior Cat has also taken a great interest in the teaching of reading. He is still interested in the topic. He worked closely with an excellent "Reading Resource Centre", a marvellous resource for teachers in this state. He did an intensive three month "study trip" for the Education Department in the UK and Scandinavia looking at reading schemes, talking to teachers and academics. He brought back a great deal of material and the RRC used it. The government disbanded the RRC not long after the Senior Cat retired. They said it was too expensive to run, that the courses it ran should be taught by the teacher training people.
In teacher training college I had just two lectures on the actual teaching of reading. My initial course was the junior/primary school course but reading - all important reading - rated just two lectures. I considered myself fortunate that I had all the resources the Senior Cat had amassed. Of course I went on to learn a great deal more about children with learning difficulties and that helped as well.
I know reading gets a little more attention in teacher training now but it is still not nearly enough. I know too that the RR program has been criticised - and I would agree with some of those who have criticised it. Nothing is perfect. Yes, it is expensive too. 
But not learning to read is even more expensive. If you can't read you can't educate yourself. If you don't read you won't educate yourself.
I think there may be another problem with which nobody has fully come to terms. We test children, we test children in ways that are supposed to diagnose "the problem" and then "solve the problem". We see the education of the child as a problem which has to be solved. We've forgotten to teach them what reading is like for the sheer enjoyment of reading. We want children to read for a purpose and their reading time has become more and more limited. There is pressure on them to "read and succeed" rather than "read and relax".  Instead of letting them loose in a library to explore we tell them they "must" read  this or that. It's become a chore, even a bore. 
If we want children to read then we need to read to them from the very beginning. We have to tell them that reading is not just simply that something that must be done because the teacher says so. We need to provide them with the skills, the place, the resources and the time to read for the sheer pleasure of reading. 
There is absolutely nothing more important in the education of the child.  
I will now get off my soap box and go back to reading.


Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that there is so little education for student teachers about teaching children to read, but it does show in the number of people who don't read well, cannot spell, cannot understand the written word well enough to enjoy reading for pleasure, or to research something they are interested in.

helen devries said...

I'm sure that you are right about letting children enjoy reading for its own sake, rather than treating it as a hurdle to be overcome.