'Perceptual reading'

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:05 pm

I certainly spent my childhood outdoors. It was the norm where I grew up in South Yorkshire that's for sure!

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by maizie » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:12 pm

Rod wrote: I won't say more on that here, other than that I'll bet they didn't need two or three teachers in the room back in the 1950's to get the same sort of results they now get with the extra teachers (again, regarding only early reading instruction, not general knowledge.) And perhaps the reason most of us can recall very few struggling readers among our peers in the 50's and 60's is because most kids spent every waking moment outdoors, in the sun, all summer long back then? Just food for thought...
I don't remember struggling readers among my peers because we were a big primary school and were streamed as soon as we hit the juniors (Y3), if not before. 44 in my class and probably at least the same in the 'B' stream. Then I went to Grammar school. So I never came into contact with children who were potential 'strugglers'. I don't know if national statistics bear out the theory of a golden age of learning to read in the 1950s & 60s.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by volunteer » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:08 pm

I really don't know whether there were children who struggled to read at my state infant school in the 1960s. We sat on numbered tables 1 to 6 which were clearly "ability" related and I wasn't really aware of what was going on at the other tables. We could certainly all read on table 1, that's all I know.

It's cold and dry in Kent this week. A lot of outdoor play has not happened because "it is too cold". At pre-school there was the free-flow between outdoors and indoors that we were told OFSTED imposed on them. My children would frequently come home after 4 hours of pre-school not having been outside because they chose not to.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by Rod Everson » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:06 am

maizie wrote:I don't know if national statistics bear out the theory of a golden age of learning to read in the 1950s & 60s.
To be honest, I don't know whether that was true or not. Not a "golden age," exactly, but did all kids learn to read? I tend to doubt it, since "dyslexia" has a long history, so I also tend to discount the anecdotes people tell in that regard.

However, we didn't have a single autistic kid in a class of nearly 100 who went through high school. But then, maybe those kids just didn't attend school in those days. I do, however, think that autism is rising significantly because of increasing levels of vitamin D3 deficiency in both pregnant women and their offspring.

Incidentally, today I heard that research is tying the current childhood obesity epidemic (yes, another epidemic) to low vitamin D levels. And one thing I'm certain of, there were very few overweight children in the "golden age."

Frankly, I think we're on the cusp of learning much, much more about all the problems the two-decade-long sun avoidance advice has caused. Within five years, I suspect we'll all be taking more than today's Tolerable Upper Limit as defined by government and be the better for it. I'm already 1,000 IU over (5,000 per day) and that only suffices to maintain my level, not increase it.

(Sorry for the random musings, but I figure the "perceptual reading" discussion had probably run its course anyway.)

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by kestrel » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:23 am

Volunteer:
School has a big advantage over home in being able to motivate / compel a fair proportion of children to read a wide variety of reading matter
You might be interested in my recent experience with my daughter who is in year 9, which I think is related to this. She has always been keen on everything to do with language, and just as I did, has absorbed mostly by osmosis a very sophisticated understanding of punctuation, grammar and how to make a paragraph "flow". She also did a lot of fiction writing outside school (which I never did).

So I was quite surprised at how much help she has needed from me this year in the techniques of academic-type essay writing (this is the first year she has been required to do anything like this). I knew that I had not needed such help, despite the fact that, lke her, I had avoided non-fiction books like the plague before that age.

And then the penny dropped. At my school, we had regular required reading both in class and as homework of textbooks for eg history and geography from the age of about 10. It must have been those textbooks (which were in many respects a collection of topic-based essays) that had provided me with the subconscious mental models that allowed me to "just know" how to write an essay.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by volunteer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:56 am

Yes it does. Similarly at my junior school we had this kind of reading both in and out of class from year 3 onwards. I had a free place at an independent school from 11 to 18 after that so I did not realise that my experience was not typical. When I taught in an extremely good comprehensive in the late 1980s I was amazed to find that there were few textbooks, and the ones they did have were a very strange style - they contained no information so far as I could tell!

I then did various other professions and finally returned to witness the state sector and private sector again over the last few years via my own children's and my step children's education and a return to teaching course and voluntary work. This time I find that the independent sector has caught up with the state sector and makes little use of textbooks.

Maybe it is just the area I live in, but I have observed many classes in many subjects at both primary and secondary level and find that the amount of reading of any description required during a school week is verging on zero.

My children attend a state primary. The homework policy requires children to read for at least 20 minutes every evening. I have asked the KS2 teacher if she could give the children some finding out homeworks which require reading a non-fiction text as I would like my daughter to broaden her reading. A blank wall has been met yet again. It is like I am asking them to ask my children to do something extremely unpleasant.

I wish that Eddie would clear up some of the glitches that I find make his CD-rom unuseable, then sell his electronic library to every school and parent in the land for £20 a time. He could change the nation's children's reading habits at the drop of a hat, and make himself a lot of spare cash to spend on his life long mission to bring reluctant readers to reading.

By the standards of my childhood circle there is a far higher proportion of "reluctant readers" than there ever was even amongst highly educated middle classes.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:51 pm

Latest from Eddie on the SENCo forum:
I dont subscribe to the simplistic view of 'phonics' or 'whole
word.' I believe we read words, not graphemes and that the acquisition
of a significant sight vocabulary is the key to boosting literacy
skills. Children become 'engaged' by the PL modules and within this
experience acquire masses of sight vocabulary and hence are able to read
fluently because they have internalised a database of every possible
grapheme-phoneme correspondence.
This does not in any way reduce the need for phonics tuition
which provides an intellectual insight to our orthography
Eddie says that perceptual learning is based on the work of Phil Kellman at UCLA and that a 'summary of his work was produced in the New Scientist last year which explains it is simple terms'.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by john walker » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:01 pm

Do you know which issue of the New Scientist, Susan? I keep all the back copies and would like to read it.
John Walker
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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:11 pm

John:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2 ... chool.html

If you read the article, please let us us know if you think Eddie has over-interpreted the research or not. Thank you.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by volunteer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:22 pm

Haven't read it yet. Some people certainly do learn that way - I did - and I would have had no problem telling you loads of g p c s without ever having been aware of meeting one in my life. However, many wouldn't.

I wonder if Eddie has been lucky and the children he has been given already had good phonic knowledge taught to them or were good at deducing the code for themselves as everyone on my side of the family seems to have done. It seems to be my husband's genes that produce children who need phonics instruction to become good readers.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by Rod Everson » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:34 pm

While I've never heard of Mr. Carron before reading this thread, it's fairly clear to me that he's wary of being included in either the whole-word or the phonics-first camps, and is seeking instead to disassociate himself from either in the interest of producing a product that should appeal to both sides.

Such a person, when talking to a crowd that leans almost completely in one direction, will tailor his comments to appeal to the proclivities of that particular crowd, and then will sound completely at odds with himself when faced with the opposite situation. And when an attempt is made to pin them down, they end up sounding like Mr. Carron in the quotes that have been cited in this thread.

Some facts (or at least I consider them facts):

1. Yes, some people, perhaps a fair percentage, learn to read without explicit phonics instruction

2. Without explicit phonics instruction, a significant percentage will unnecessarily fail.

3. Explicit phonics instruction does no harm to those who might not need it in the first place.

4. To a good reader, every reasonably familiar word has become a "sight word" in the sense that they no longer have to break it down mentally grapheme by grapheme to read it.

5. The synapses of the brain, however, are continuously sorting out options and narrowing them down, but doing it so fast that the process of reading has become automated.

6. Good readers faced with an unfamiliar word will revert to breaking it down grapheme by grapheme, and in the process will be building the synaptic connections needed to automate its recognition later on.

7. Poor readers, face with an unfamiliar word, will either guess at it, or read it incorrectly not even realizing that it is a new, unfamiliar word.

Okay, not facts, perhaps, but I think all of the above statements are reasonably accurate. Mr. Carron seems to pick and choose from the above as he wishes, when he wishes. If I express just #1 to a whole-word audience, they will be hearing what they want to hear, and I can continue on with my main objective, pushing my product as they nod their heads in agreement.

A similar phenomenon occurs when someone is doing something in the energy field. If the audience is global-warming oriented, homage must be paid to their gods before getting their attention. The same is true if the audience is filled with skeptics, just different gods. The product might be good for both, but they're far more likely to listen if it appears in line with their cause. With the instant communication via the internet, it's a difficult act to maintain, however.

This is why so many people fall in line with one side or the other. At least half of your intended audience is then paying attention. The other half has discounted everything you say because you're on the "wrong side." Mr. Carron's trying to have it both ways and, as shown by this thread, this raises doubts along several lines, even though there seems to be some agreement that he is up to something good in the end.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by volunteer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:39 pm

Yes he definitely wishes to be up to something good - he's in his 80s and this is a free of charge research project so far as I can gather which he and his wife have put much effort into over the years. The schools that use him are pleased with the results - of course there may have been something better they could have done but this is free at the point of sale and takes up negligible teacher time. The thing that puzzles me is that it does get such a good press because when I tried the electronic library at home both me and my children found the way it functioned maddening and soon stopped using it. The reading matter was good though so it was a shame.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by chew8 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:46 pm

I think he’s genuinely up to something good, in the sense that once children can read a bit, his materials provide practice in a motivating way. It’s just a pity that although he says that he himself is in favour of good early phonics teaching, he makes it sound as though others who favour the same thing are promoting ‘ritual indoctrination’ (his words).

What I found when I used his Electronic Library with strugglers at the junior school where I help was that the children enjoyed using it but didn’t seem to learn all that he would claim. For example, when they were asked to spell the words with which they had needed help in reading, they would listen to the computer voice dictating the word then would just go back to the on-screen passage and copy the letters one by one. I felt that they had little or no chance of remembering the spellings.

Does anyone know what the differences are between the Electronic Library and the Toolbox?

Jenny C.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by maizie » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:59 pm

chew8 wrote:Does anyone know what the differences are between the Electronic Library and the Toolbox?
I don't know, but Eddie has told me that he is following this thread. Perhaps he would contact me through the SENCo Forum and explain the difference for us.

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Re: 'Perceptual reading'

Post by geraldinecarter » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:18 pm

Thanks for the observations, Rod, and to all who have thrown light on Eddie's contradictory messages. I'd like to believe that, once phonics is in place, that his machine would bring a richer experience to reading than much that is on offer for older struggling readers; it does come across, as Volunteer remarked, that this is something he is doing for no financial gain. But it's also puzzling that his remarks on initial phonics foundations display such ambiguity.

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