Some Misinterpretations and Misconceptions of “The Science of Reading”
- The “Science of Reading” should not be viewed as a faction in the reading wars (i.e., the debate about the extent to which reading instruction should focus on phonics). Nor should the phrase be viewed as “phonics only” or as an opposition to language instruction. It is true that reading research has unequivocally established the importance of phonics instruction for helping all children learn to read. But research has also established the critical importance of language abilities in reading. In short, the science of reading has established that both explicit instruction in how to read words, as well as instruction that strengthens language knowledge and skills, are important.
- It is not sufficient to refer to the “Five Big Ideas of Reading” as the “Science of Reading." The “Five Big Ideas” usually refers to phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, which were interpreted by readers of the report of the National Reading Panel as five key components of reading. It is true that all five are very important elements of reading instruction and reading development. But they should not be viewed as a prescription for what reading instruction should look like for all students on a daily basis in all grades, or how to equally divide a reading lesson, because some skills are more important for students at a given grade or stage of reading. The five should also not be viewed as discrete categories or separate “skills” because there is a great deal of overlap and inter-dependence among them.
In my upcoming webinar, I will discuss these topics and the research behind them, what is known about the science of reading, and what questions remain.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
Interested in learning more about the science of reading? Register here for Dr. Clemens’ webinar, “The Science of Reading: What Educators Should Know,”
on July 16 at 12:00 p.m. ET. You can follow Dr. Clemens on Twitter: @DrNathanClemens