Many state laws mention "comprehension" but few say anything about building the knowledge that enables it.
This article merely touches on two enormous school and societal problems: what to do about schools that teach little (populated by teachers who know little) and about whole segments of our society who do not value education. Add to this a technological revoluation (the "smart" phone) that is destroying the relationships between parents and children. Yesterday I was stuck waiting in a checkout line, along with a mom who had her one-year-old son sitting in her cart with her merchandise. The little guy was as cute as they come and he was getting into everything; I was tempted to interact with him but we have boundaries about adults interacting with others' children, so I mostly refrained. In a previous time the mom would've spent this time interacting with him, but instead she was staring at her phone; she lost this chance to forge her relationship with him and to build his vocabulary. On a larger scale, we have entire sub-populations (blacks, specifically) who are known to spend less time verbally communicating everyday knowledge their kids during their crucial pre-school years. How does a school compensate for such a cultural difference? And then we have the schools, which have eradicated much classical knowledge from their curricula and replaced it with Marxist, racist indoctrination. Other than the rantings of Ibram Kendi, what exactly is a modern child in a public school expected to comprehend on a "comprehension" test? How much comprehension can we expect of a "student" who literally cannot multiply numbers and who has no conception of the world around him? Like these, for example: https://youtu.be/Ufmcubp2szg?si=0O8h89ojivDRHCy6
Thanks for this. How would you go about writing state standards of learning that are content based? I am a parent with no education experience whatsoever (other than serving on various parent advisory boards). I’ve been selected by my state’s department of education to serve on a citizen advisory board for new ELA standards of learning. I’ve been following your work a lot and admire what you have to say. There has been a lot of focus in my state on phonics and structured literacy so I’m sure we will face no problem with that. What I would like to focus on grounding structured literacy in a knowledge rich curriculum and also on systematic writing instruction. I am struggling with how we can incorporate standards that mandate a knowledge rich curriculum when developing ELA standards of learning. I can see how we can do that for social studies or science but not for English. My sense is the best way to go about it is mandate that certain curriculums are used but not to push for knowledge based standards in the standards of learning. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts! I think with writing standards it will be easier as I can focus on sentence construction, paragraph construction and outlining
I corresponded with you a year or so ago when I had edited a book that dealt with this issue as it particularly bedevils kids from backgrounds of poverty. I understand better now your point that once comprehension is required more intensively in the intermediate grades, lack of background knowledge is as much or more of an obstacle to their progress as weak comprehension “skills” and the two deficiencies have a confounding effect on each other.
I am at a loss to understand your statement, "After fifth grade, the boost from better decoding instruction disappears." What evidence supports this? Unless essentially all students somehow intuitively manage to figure out decoding by themselves at this age, how is this possible? I have an adult wife who never learned decoding as a child, and to this day her reading ability is crippled by that; she just doesn't have the patience or the skill to handle seriously unfamiliar and/or complex words, so she guesses, almost always incorrectly. The typical Whole Language teacher, of course, would applaud this. How do fifth graders suddenly start figuring out what the words are, or even more strangely start comprehending the text without knowing what the words are? http://mychildwillread.org/