Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:28 am

And it's pretty much the same with any teaching and learning.

The child brings previous and current experiences and the teacher does add the teacherly extra/enrichment as required or as appropriate.

It seems to me that the main bone of contention is that the synthetic phonics teaching principles positively discourage the teacher teaching the child to guess words from various cues - and positively discourage giving children books to read independently which require them to default to lot of word-guessing to 'get through' the book.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by JIM CURRAN » Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:53 pm

Well put Debbie.

"It seems to me that the main bone of contention is that the synthetic phonics teaching principles positively discourage the teacher teaching the child to guess words from various cues - and positively discourage giving children books to read independently which require them to default to lot of word-guessing to 'get through' the book"

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:13 pm

http://websofsubstance.wordpress.com/20 ... ibilities/

Interesting to see that a number of people from different perspectives (that is, not to all intents and purposes RRFers) view Andrew Davis's paper as somewhat flawed!

As a position, it would have a modicum of logical consistency if the argument simply halted at that point. However, it does not. Usually, it proceeds something like this: It is impossible to prove anything with educational research therefore the exact thing that I am doing – for which there is no research evidence – must be correct and everyone must do the same as me or they are a child-hating sadist. This is clearly logically flawed.

An example of this can be found in Andrew Davies latest less-than-objective discussion of synthetic phonics (SP), an explicit approach to teaching decoding in reading. Firstly, he goes to great lengths to try to demonstrate that, “In reality, implementations of SP in any one school will not and should not precisely resemble those in other schools, and in any case, current research into SP ‘effectiveness’ is not informed by a detailed blow by blow description of what actually happens in the classrooms concerned. Hence, it is never really made clear what the research is actually investigating. If teachers are actually teaching, there will be and should be nothing common to all SP programmes. The effects of drugs or fertilisers can, of course, be investigated using orthodox scientific methodologies, but we lack the equivalent here in terms of teaching approaches. It follows from this that there can be no possible justification for the universal imposition of any one teaching ‘method’, and of SP in particular.” So that’s it then, no possible justification for imposing one teaching method. However, Davies then goes on to promote the virtues of ‘analytic phonics’ which is one teaching method.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by geraldinecarter » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:35 am

Thanks Debbie for flagging this up. Harry Webb is based in Australia - a much respected blogger. I wonder how someone who holds Davies' position at a much respected university can publish such sloppily researched, subjective material.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:16 am

Just one thing - his surname is Davis, not Davies. We ought to get the spelling right.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Toots » Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:38 pm

geraldinecarter wrote:Thanks Debbie for flagging this up. Harry Webb is based in Australia - a much respected blogger. I wonder how someone who holds Davies' position at a much respected university can publish such sloppily researched, subjective material.
Can you justify 'sloppily researched' and 'subjective' please. I think you've been beguiled by Harry Webb's assessment that the piece is not objective. He doesn't justify his judgement either.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by geraldinecarter » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:15 am

Apologies for incorrect spelling of Davis - I have become v. bad with names, figures...

T.I wd expect anyone in this sort of position of influence to argue his/her case with rigour.

Not a single person who argues for 'balanced' literacy, analytic phonics, phonics in the mix, constructivist teaching, can name schools with high % living on or below the poverty line, successfully teaching virtually all children to read.I have asked many people over the past few years. As you seem to have time to nit-pick ad nauseam, it would be helpful if you used some of this time to find and name successful schools in deprived areas.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:40 am

Geraldine: your misspelling was understandable – Harry Webb had spelt ‘Davis’ as ‘Davies’ in his blog.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Toots » Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:43 pm

geraldinecarter wrote: T.I wd expect anyone in this sort of position of influence to argue his/her case with rigour.
Are you referring to Davis or to Webb here I wonder? Or perhaps to yourself, GC? If it is Davis can you please explain the faults and lack of rigour you perceive in his arguments. That way it won't be necessary to conclude that you just want to insult and discredit him. Which I'm sure isn't the case.
geraldinecarter wrote:Not a single person who argues for 'balanced' literacy, analytic phonics, phonics in the mix, constructivist teaching, can name schools with high % living on or below the poverty line, successfully teaching virtually all children to read.
Assuming this is aimed at Davis's position, which I broadly share, you continue to ignore the fact that this position is about the prescriptive nature of SP, as taught in England, and wrongly attribute to us a desire to bring in some other prescribed method. Did you read Davis's paper?
geraldinecarter wrote:I have asked many people over the past few years. As you seem to have time to nit-pick ad nauseam, it would be helpful if you used some of this time to find and name successful schools in deprived areas.
Let's deconstruct your demands that I (I assume you're asking me) should name schools which successfully teach all children to read without having responded in the required way to the SP mission:

It seems you want to imply that if such a school cannot be named that means that SP has to be the right path. However this would not show that a better 'path' than SP is not available, or will not become available in the future. Additionally it would not show whether or not the costs of implementing SP in terms of success in other areas of education are justified. So not being able to find such a school would prove very little about the value of SP.

I would also want to know what constitutes teaching all children to read and ask you to supply the evidence that the success of the SP schools is a direct result of SP. Something that you would find as difficult to do as, I suspect, it would be difficult for me to name a school which I could be sure owed its success to the fact that it was not using SP in the prescribed manner.

Meanwhile, as all schools, teachers, pupils and circumstances are different, supplying a list of schools which have had success without SP would not prove that SP could not be successful in other schools, times, places, sets of circumstances. Equally supplying a list of successful SP schools would not prove that SP would work as well in other schools, times, places, sets of circumstances.

So your demand for me to name a school is somewhat misguided. I may have a fair amount of time on my hands but, believe it or not, I prefer to spend it productively, and when posting on here, in addressing the real issues, rather than wasting it on fools' errands.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:22 pm

So your demand for me to name a school is somewhat misguided. I may have a fair amount of time on my hands but, believe it or not, I prefer to spend it productively, and when posting on here, in addressing the real issues, rather than wasting it on fools' errands.
Contrary to what you may think, RRFers promote an approach based on research findings and leading-edge practice.

If it was shown that something different and better was advisable, we would promote that instead of SSP.

It is evidence-based methodology and content that we promote.

It would not be a 'fool's errand' to name and promote examples of approach/programme providing better results.

After all, we were able to gain people's interest in this field precisely because of 'findings' and promoting by examplar studies and schools such as Kobi Nazrul (when Ruth Miskin was headteacher), Woods Loke (when Sarah Wernham and Sue Lloyd were making extraordinary gains in the school from a change of practice), St Michael's at Stoke Gifford (when Trudy Wainwright was working cooperatively with Dr Marlynne Grant) - and the Clack schools when they fine-tuned their practice to a synthetic phonics approach.

When people changed their practices to result in profoundly different results - reaching all the children and not just some more articulate and more privileged children - and also looked into the research and read widely, it was the combination of all these things which led to what the RRF promotes.

You devote considerable time and effort to your postings - it is not at all unreasonable for RRFers to ask for examples of what you describe.

We also go to considerable time and effort to address your concerns. To no effect it seems as you always return to comments which we have already addressed - maybe not to your satisfaction - but it really does seem like you we go round and round in circles.

Meanwhile, pretty much daily, I hear from people via email who have been helped by SP generally and perhaps resources/programmes specifically - and they tried other approaches and resources previously.

I am sure other programme authors/publishers will be able to report the same thing.

Years ago, many RRFers embarked on what you might describe as a 'fool's errand'. Their efforts eventually led to a change in government guidance.

So, it was worth doing.

Toots

Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Toots » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:51 pm

Yes, I am aware that you base the approach on evidence and research findings, I have never questioned that, although I have questioned a) the quality of the research itself, b) the interpretation of research used to justify approaches, which I have not always found justified and c) the extent to which the SP regime matches those researched.

I am in favour of research, and in favour of further research which sheds more light on the development of children's language and literacy, some of which I have referred to in posts. However, research findings have to be looked into with care. No research findings about one classroom are necessarily going to be applicable to another. This is why it would indeed be a fool's errand to attempt to produce a list of successful (in teaching reading) schools as some sort of proof that SP should be universally applied. Such an enterprise would and should invite many questions, finding any halfway valid answers for which would be a research project in itself. Now, I may have time available but I do not have funds, access or opportunity to do this. Perhaps you have.

As it is RRFers who constantly demand this sort of data, why don't you do it? When you produced exemplar studies of the schools you mention did you match your successful SP schools with other less successful SP schools and explore the differences? Did you look for successful non-SP schools and compare those? If this is not a fool's errand, embark on it yourselves. As I don't believe the findings about one school can necessarily be applied to all it hardly makes sense that I should be the person to do it.

Incidentally, you seem to have assigned the RRF the role of 'addressing my concerns'. I don't ask that you do that. I am posting to demonstrate another point of view and debate the issues with you on a public forum and I have continued to contribute because the debate is still alive and kicking. If I go over the same ground it is because you persist in repeating the same unconvincing arguments without meeting my criticisms of them.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:12 pm

Then perhaps it is time to stop trying to address your criticisms.

We have, for example, tried to point out the commonality of underpinning teaching principles behind systematic synthetic phonics and linguistic programmes based on research evidence and leading-edge practice (practice with results) to which we commonly attribute the success of the teaching and learning.

It is ironic when you say 'Why don't we do it?' because isn't that what I have said we have already done.

As for the comment about 'funds', I started my journey simply as a classroom teacher and spent family funds on any funding required to look into results, meet politicians, visit schools, share practices, attend meetings and so on.

Oh - and contributing to produce the RRF newsletter when it was in hard copy - and set up the RRF website - and create free resources.

And so on...

It depends on one's level of commitment.

Yours seems to be at the level of forum contributions. That's fine - you do make a contribution.

But you seem to have some kind of blind spot regarding the assimilation of results, our knowledge and understanding - etc - of people promoting SSP - and our shared commitment to the commonalities.

As I said, we go round in circles.

Toots

Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Toots » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:42 pm

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:Then perhaps it is time to stop trying to address your criticisms.
Obviously that's up to you.
Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:We have, for example, tried to point out the commonality of underpinning teaching principles behind systematic synthetic phonics and linguistic programmes based on research evidence and leading-edge practice (practice with results) to which we commonly attribute the success of the teaching and learning.
OK. That sort of sounds impressive. Do you mean you have pointed out that the SP teaching principles are refined from what research has shown has worked well in certain situations? Yes, you have. How does this escape criticisms of the research that has been used, the way it has been used to arrive at a prescription, and the faulty thinking behind creating a prescription in education. You haven't addressed these criticisms. As I have said repeatedly I am not 'against' SP. I am critical of the way it has been introduced and enforced.
Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:It is ironic when you say 'Why don't we do it?' because isn't that what I have said we have already done.
Then perhaps you can point me in the direction of your comparisons and analysis of schools which do well with SP, those which don't and comparison schools which do not use SP, and show how these results prove that SP should be taught in essentially the same way in all English schools. To repeat again, I am not 'against' SP.
Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:As for the comment about 'funds', I started my journey simply as a classroom teacher and spent family funds on any funding required to look into results, meet politicians, visit schools, share practices, attend meetings and so on.

Oh - and contributing to produce the RRF newsletter when it was in hard copy - and set up the RRF website - and create free resources.

And so on...

It depends on one's level of commitment.
What's this? You must be right because you've made more of an investment? How does that work?

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:17 am

Toots wrote:How does this escape criticisms of the research that has been used, the way it has been used to arrive at a prescription, and the faulty thinking behind creating a prescription in education.
One problem is that when people start dissecting the research, they can reach different conclusions. For example, you Toots, have been critical of Johnston and Watson’s Experiment 2 (Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 17/4. 2004), whereas TorgersON (note spelling), Brooks and Hall (2006) regarded those findings as valid but pooled the results with results from two other studies (Skailand and TorgesEN et al.) and found that the total effect size was not statistically significant. Johnston et al. (2011) have pointed out flaws in TorgersON et al’s. analysis, but Andrew Davis probably doesn’t know this and accepts the TorgersON et al. findings. So where does this all leave us?

Being now in my 14th year of voluntarily hearing the reading of Year 3 children, I, personally, feel that decoding has been under-emphasised at infant level for far too long and that something needed to be done to correct this. It remains to be seen whether the right things have been done. As far as I can tell, the critics of what has been done are basing their criticisms on what they regard as possible negative effects, not on research showing that negative effects are actually occurring. Perhaps the 3-year evaluation by the National Foundation for Educational Research will provide some answers, but that has another year to run. I think another interim report is due out quite soon, however.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by kenm » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:02 am

Toots wrote:Do you mean you have pointed out that the SP teaching principles are refined from what research has shown has worked well in certain situations? Yes, you have. How does this escape criticisms of the research that has been used,
In an area where ethical constraints usually make the standards of the best trials impossible to achieve, some of your criticisms were valid. There are few research studies in education done to better standards, and none of those contradict the ones quoted here (unless you know different???).
the way it has been used to arrive at a prescription, and the faulty thinking behind creating a prescription in education. You haven't addressed these criticisms.
The "prescription" (actually still only a recommendation, I believe) seems mostly to have been derived from observation of the good results obtained by schools that adopted SP and the poor ones from those that didn't; what's wrong with that? As for being prescriptive, that was the situation in education for some decades before the Rose Review; all that has changed is what is now recommended. With a work force most of whom have been brain-washed into using ineffective methods and have never received the sort of basic scientific training that would enable them to distinguish good research from bad, more prescription than is currently the case would be a very good idea.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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