The right words

7th July 1995 at 01:00
READING WORDS. By Barry Stierer and David Bloome. NATE Pounds 10.95. 0 901291 38 2.

One of the problems in the reading debate is confusion over the way people define their terms. It oftens seems to teachers that when the media or politicians discuss reading, the underlying ideas are oversimplified. Reading Words clarifies the language and concepts of reading and is an extremely welcome publication.

The book begins with the important notion that the language we use is scarcely ever neutral: "Whoever has the authority to define reading has the power to determine who is a reader and who is not, whose interpretation of a text is acceptable and whose is not, and how and for what written language may be used". The authors then question the everyday meanings given to terms connected with reading. "Reading scheme", for example, implies a technology for teaching reading considered according to ideas such as efficiency and value. But, they argue, reading schemes also promote a set of social practices, each with its own ideological underpinning. Thus reading schemes lead to grouping children and educational grouping tends to reinforce social grouping. The authors also imply a particular control system: teachers control what children read, and teachers in their turn are controlled by the designers of the schemes.

This kind of analysis is applied to 24 terms including "comprehension", "phonics" and "real books". As a result, ideas that are often taken for granted are fundamentally challenged.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now