Reading make you smarter, or, you have to be smart to read?

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Reading make you smarter, or, you have to be smart to read?

Post by maizie » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:36 pm

I've always tended to the idea that reading enables one to learn more through access to written information on just about every subject under the sun. I was intrigued to follow a twitter link this morning and find that Ed Hirsch is apparently saying just the opposite!

Commence with this key Hirsch insight: Teaching knowledge is teaching reading—and reading will never be mastered beyond the “decoding” stage without a solid foundation of knowledge. Children cannot be truly literate without knowing about the world—about history, science, art, music, literature, civics, geography, and more. This is not a value statement about what students “should” study; rather, it reflects decades of cognitive science and reading research.

Once children learn to decode the words on a page, greater literacy is attained only through greater knowledge. Reading comprehension, and thus learning by reading, depends on knowing something about the content of the passage at hand. If a fifth grader knows a lot about baseball, for example, she will comprehend complex stories about baseball at a high level. But if she doesn’t know a lot about the ocean, she will struggle to comprehend anything beyond simple, introductory books about marine life. The only way to help children become strong readers, regardless of topic, is to equip them with a large store of general knowledge—to help them learn something about everything. And that means implementing a well-designed, sequential, content-rich curriculum, especially in the early grades.

Knowing the tendency of any statement to become totally distorted in its dissemination (look at the way the SP teaching principles are twisted and misinterpreted) it conjures up a slightly worrying spectre of children not being ready to learn to read 'because they don't know enough yet' :mrgreen:

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