Literacy Begins at Home

As if we didn't know that! The LA Times has a piece you should read.

Money quote:

There is a huge difference in the number of words and the prohibitive or affirmative tone of words heard by young children depending on whether their parents are on welfare, in the working class or professionals.

Ask any teacher and they will tell you the same thing. Kids come to school with whatever they have been given at home. Those who were given less, have less; less of a vocabulary, less experience with stuff, less cognitive stimulation. The public who wants schools and teachers to fix this literacy shortfall, and take the blame for the problem, should realize that schools are not the problem! Never really have been! It is the families that attend the school that are the problem/solution.

No, I am not absolving teachers of their literacy responsibility. I am merely pointing out that teachers are not the fix. Indeed, school is not the fix. Remediation may be helpful, but there are just no funds for that. So, blame schools and teachers!


Anonymous said...

The vocabulary data is crap, frankly. It's racist nonsense courtesy of Republicans.

HOW TO DIAGNOSE A VOCABULARY GAP: My shortened version of Louisa Cook Moats.

1. Go into a deep urban area.
2. Bring pictures of farm equipment.
3. Show pictures to children.
4. When children cannot identify a pivot or a thresher, freak out.
5. Claim their is a vocabulary gap.

The Hart and Risley with the "million word difference" is even worse. Among other things, the researchers' grasp of American dialects is pretty poor, so they miss some homophones in their counting.

There's no deficit, there's difference. It's just that teaching to difference is hard and challenges standard models of education, so people don't go there.

Unknown said...

So, you refute the findings? You say there is merely a difference. Isn't the difference that there is a deficit in one group? I have found nothing in the literature, or in my experience, that disproves the basic tenet of the study: Kids who are talked to less have a smaller vocabulary. This limited vocabulary bodes ill for them.

Early education is key, and we have yet to fund it!

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