Using Common Sense to find Common Ground: A Centrist take on the Reading Wars. By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Using Common Sense to find Common Ground: A Centrist take on the Reading Wars. By Dr. Sam Bommarito

In the past two months, I’ve presented at several conferences. I talked about finding common ground in the discussion about the teaching of reading. I want to share some of the points I’ve been making as I talked to educators nationwide.

POINT ONE– making sense of the reading wars has been very important to me for a long time. It began with my doctoral thesis around the last iteration of the reading wars. One of my big takeaways from that study was that there was more common ground than most folks realize. See this slide:

POINT TWO- The current discussions about the best ways to teach reading are marred by significant misrepresentations made by what I have termed the social media version of Science of Reading. I firmly believe their claims do not represent the true science of reading. Many well-credentialed researchers agree.

POINT THREE- Especially in the arena of the social media talk around SOR, all sides must avoid the use of strawmen. As we carry out those discussions, we must learn to talk, not bicker.

As indicated, we need to learn to talk, not bicker, as we discuss social media.

POINT FOUR- When seeking common ground, we must especially look at the ideas of folks who seem to appeal to people from all sides of this debate.

POINT FIVE– When seeking common ground, we also need to carefully pay special attention to researchers who follow the research and use the research from the past as a springboard for future research.

As we build on previous research, we must use the best, most high-quality research possible.


This is the message I have been trying to spread for the past few weeks. It says to consider the ideas from all sides. Allow districts to use the best of those ideas. Acknowledge that choices about adopting what course of action should be taken are best made at the district level since districts are in the best position to know the needs of their particular unique populations. In this next slide notice what I view as the hope for the future of education.

NEXT WEEK: I will continue this discussion and provide some resources for you to consider as you think about ways to cut through the gordian knot that has been the Reading Wars. Until then, Happy Reading and Happy Writing!

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the guy in the middle taking flak from all sides)

Copyright 2023 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely this author’s view and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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