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Lecture aimed to explore changing ideas of literacy

I read Stewart Deuchar's letter ("Reading Aloud", TES, March 21) with a sense of disbelief. In his critique of Margaret Meek Spencer's lecture at the University of Greenwich on March 13, he notes that "apart from a slighting reference to phonemes, she never once mentioned phonics or the findings of the massive body of recent research".

He conveniently ignores the fact that this was a lecture on the changing concept of literacy - it was not designed as a practical guide to the teaching of reading.

If he was searching for specific advice about the methodology of teaching reading, then he should have attended one of our follow-up presentations in the second half of the conference.

It is a shame that he should want to denigrate the audience as well as the speaker at the conference by claiming that they "wanted nothing more than to be reassured that the best way to teach a child to read is not to teach it at all, least of all systematically".

He then refers to their "collective madness" in his dismissal of the occasion.

Not only did he fail to listen to the major themes of the lecture, but he is also making assumptions about the audience's approach to the teaching of reading which are based purely on his prejudices and total lack of evidence.

No teacher would argue against a systematic approach to the teaching of reading.

At least he recognised that there was "ecstatic applause" for one of this country's most distinguished figures in the field of literacy.

It is just a pity that, unlike the rest of the audience, he could not appreciate the challenging and inspirational nature of her address.

ROBERT YOUNG Chair, NAPE SE London University of Greenwich

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