P. David Pearson speaks out about Hanford’s portrayal of Marie Clay: My take- Hanford has gotten things wrong (again).
(Note to readers- I usually post every Saturday morning. But this Facebook post from Dr. Pearson certainly merits a special edition. My regularly scheduled Saturday post will come tomorrow)
Let me remind readers first of who P.D. Pearson is. He revolutionized the reading field with his 1983 introduction of the gradual release model LINK. Pearson also began the revolution in how we teach comprehension. He has written scores of articles published in top peer-reviewed journals and published numerous books, including one about the history of reading LINK, LINK. I noticed that book was absent from Hanford’s recently published “Top Twenty” books in literacy. More about that in future blogs. Right now, let’s look at what Dr. Pearson had to say.
I highly recommend that readers download the pdf and read it. To pique your interest, here are a few highlights from that document. I have bolded and italicized some things that I thought were particularly important.
” Again, Marie was ahead of her time—doing design-based research before we had a name for it.”
“Emergent literacy. Marie coined the term emergent literacy in her PhD thesis; more importantly, she enhanced our understanding of it enormously, both in Reading Recovery and her assessment work. When we utter the term, we usually mean to emphasize the idea that no matter how young, inexperienced, or novice you are as a reader and writer, there is a level at which, there is a task in which, you can demonstrate your emerging literacy competence. But I also like, as did Marie, the other end of the continuum—the idea that no matter how old, experienced, and expert you are as a reader or writer, there is always something more for you to learn—another book to read, another practice to master, another paper to write, or another word to learn. We are all emergent readers.”
“In teacher education, we began, in the late1970s and 80s, to champion the idea of the teacher as a reflective practitioner. Marie, in her famous “behind the glass” sessions—where a teacher in training and a teacher leader comment, in real-time, on the lesson enacted by a second teacher in training—figured out how to operationalize moment-by-moment real-time reflection about practice long before researchers in teacher education got there. This did not go unnoticed by colleagues. During my tenure at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), Dick Anderson, Bonnie Armbruster, and Jan Gaffney developed adaptations of that model for our pre-service teacher education program. We see models of professional development come and go, that model in Reading Recovery stands the test of time. It endures because it is effective. …”
I sincerely hope the above highlights convince my readers that this document is a “must-read” and that they download and read the rest of it.
Pearson is certainly not alone in criticizing Hanford’s position.
Consider a recent edition of the Hechinger report:
Here is a link to the full report LINK.
Here is a key excerpt from that report (bolding is mine):
“But two recent academic papers, synthesizing dozens of reading studies, are raising questions about the effectiveness of these expensive education policies. A review of 24 studies on the Orton-Gillingham method, published in the July 2021 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Exceptional Children, found no statistically significant benefit for children with dyslexia. Instead, suggesting a way forward, a review of 53 reading studies, led by University of Virginia researcher Colby Hall and published online in September 2022 in Reading Research Quarterly, found that much cheaper reading interventions for children with a variety of reading difficulties were also quite effective for children with dyslexia.”
Hanford accuses some educators of selling a story. Yet, it seems she is selling a story herself. It is a story of how the methods she promotes are better than all that has come before. She claims it is time to replace the ineffective methods of the past. The only problem with her story is that, as P. David Pearson points out in his post, and as the Hechinger report indicates, she is simply wrong. Her story is only believable if you are willing to take the limited and limiting point of view about what reading is and if your review of the research is limited. In addition to the study just mentioned, a good place to get a complete overview is in this RRQ summary of the research LINK. Readers are also invited to consider the ideas of P.L. Thomas (that’s another book she omitted) LINK and the pushback from the Reading Recovery Community on what Hanford said about Clay LINK.
Hanford and others take the position that it’s all settled science and that they have the one and only true understanding of what the Science of reading is. I’ve pointed out before that not all researchers agree LINK. She also maintains that the current situation is all the fault of the failed practices of the past. Unfortunately, too often, the practices are labeled as failed because the evidence supporting them (and there is evidence supporting them LINK, LINK, LINK) is discounted and disregarded. That is a public relations ploy, not a serious discussion of research.
Please consider my alternate explanation of why things aren’t what they should be:
As a centrist LINK, I take the position both sides (all sides) have gotten some things right and that both sides (all sides) have gotten some things wrong. I’ve suggested that instead of talking about what we disagree on and letting dichotomies dominate the discussion, we should, instead, turn our attention to what works based on ALL the available research. We shouldn’t be using research to prove our way is right and that it is the one and only way. Rather we should be following the research to see where it leads. That last idea is one I got from Nell Duke. That kind of thinking guided Marie Clay. That’s the kind of thinking that guides P.D. Pearson. At the end of the day, I’m all for using research to inform our instruction, but I also favor looking at all the research and applying the same criteria for evaluating that research LINK. In his essay, David calls upon us to honor Clay’s memory and Clay’s legacy. The best way to do that is to follow ALL the research and see where it leads to next. I think Dame Marie would like that very much.
As I promised earlier this week, I will be posting the interview of Yvonna Grahm and Alta E. Graham about their new book Dyslexia Tool Kit: What to do when phonics isn’t enough.
Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching
Copyright 2022 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the author’s view and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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