Reading Interventions, Research, School-wide Literacy
Comments 4

A Call for Accuracy

Disagree if you like, but let’s get the facts right.

Church bell (Pixabay) 2

One thing that I have enjoyed about Twitter and blogging is the constructive educational debates that occur from time to time. I am grateful for the feedback and comments on my recent series of posts challenging the view of reading disabilities as lifelong impairments. However, I am reluctantly writing this short post to correct misrepresentations of my position by @JulesDauby here.

Readers may or may not be interested but given that these comments directly impact on my professional standing I feel that I have to point out the following errors:

1    I have never said that children of low intelligence can’t read. This is a completely false representation. I have made it quite clear in the examples in the post, my website and other posts that all children can learn to read. I am passionate about this fact. Accepting that a few children of “significantly low intelligence may not be able to learn to read” is NOT the same as “children of low intelligence cannot learn to read.” The following is an excerpt from my first ever post in January 2014:

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 12.02.35

2 The series of three posts did not ‘start’ in response to a blog by @JulesDaulby. They were planned long before her post that is mentioned (in passing) in “The natural home for reading interventions . . .” I was working on the assumption that I could highlight a professional difference of opinion without creating personal offence.

3 I have not made any reference to anyone’s ability to teach – and I will celebrate with anyone for every victory that is achieved. This is not a competition. I am not challenging teachers – I am challenging a practice. I have not attacked anyone’s motivations or morals – I am challenging an idea that I believe has had pernicious effects. I will continue to do so; I believe it is right to do so.

The exchange has been useful in one respect: it has demonstrated with crystal clarity that these were blog posts which needed to be written:

SEND the right message

The natural home for reading interventions (and it’s not SEN)

Te Wero – The Challenge

Marching to a Different Tune

Visit our website.

You may also be interested in:

7 Misconceptions About Teaching Adolescents to Read

15 Tests for secondary school reading interventions

Schools, Character and Justice

Why is there a reading problem in secondary schools?



  1. Pingback: Marching to a Different Tune | thinkingreadingwritings

  2. As you say, Dianne, the real problem lies in the fact that there is such a dearth of expertise in the teaching of children with special educational needs. Sending unqualified and/or untrained staff in to catch up children who have fallen years behind their peers in reading and writing really isn’t good enough. And yet, it is the norm in so many schools.
    When I was teaching I did three extended professional development courses specifically aimed at improving the quality of teaching to those children who had fallen behind. Not a single one of them gave me the slightest idea of how to go about the job, although, of course, there was plenty of ‘theory’. What I wanted was an approach that I could see working with child after child, time after time. I never found it in the universities.
    Fortunately, as we now know, there are approaches that work and there are people like us who can try to let others know that the answers are there for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
    Keep up the good work!
    John Walker, Sounds-Write


  3. Thank you, John. As you say, it’s having the eyes to see and the ears to hear. I have done much pondering over the past week and I am saddened at how an allegiance to ideology can be so blinding. I saw this very clearly during my ITT in New Zealand. Particularly in the respect of reading – being such a fundamental skill – we need our practice to be informed by the very best research. I will always be extremely grateful for the opportunity to undertake research-informed post-graduate training, also in New Zealand.

    I think of the adults I know who were told that they were dyslexic in their childhood, and the impact that has had on their lives. And I contrast that with the children who, despite having that label, have been taught to read, caught up to their peers, continued to sustain those gains and have gone on to higher education. The question needs to be asked: were they cured or did they never have the ‘disability’ in the first place? As long as we see the disability in the child, we have an excuse for them not to learn. Zig Engelmann puts it in nutshell: dyslexia or dysteachia? I know which horse I am backing. Onward and upward!


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