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Phoney Phonics: How Decoding Came to Rule and Reading Lost Meaning

by Nicola Yelland - August 19, 2020

The current debate around the teaching of reading in primary schools is a global phenomenon, even framed as being the “reading wars.” In the western world, education departments in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have implemented phonics packages from the start of compulsory schooling (usually beginning at five years of age) and “screening” test regimes in the second year of school (in Australia, Year One). The stated aims of these tests imply that there is one element that is common across successful readers: being able to decode text using what is technically called the synthetic phonics approach. According to the information for parents provided with South Australia’s phonics screening test, “Phonics is vital in learning to read… The phonics screening check is a short, simple assessment that tells teachers how students are progressing in phonics.”

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 19, 2020
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23414, Date Accessed: 8/3/2021 1:09:48 PM

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About the Author
  • Nicola Yelland
    University of Melbourne
    E-mail Author
    NICOLA YELLAND, Ph.D., is professor of Early Childhood Studies in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Her teaching and research interests have been related transformative pedagogies and the use of new technologies in school and community contexts. She has also worked in East Asia and examined the culture and curriculum of early childhood settings. Her work engages with educational issues with regard to varying social, economic and political conditions and thus requires multidisciplinary perspectives. She effectively links research with practice so that her audience are able to critically explore the nexus of theory and practice. Her evidence informed approaches provides a context for exploring transformative pedagogies that is based in the real world and connected to the lives of teachers.
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