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Maladaptive Glorified Image of Reading Research

Posted By: Dick Schutz on March 22, 2005
I have no beef with the review. To the contrary; it persuaded me to buy the book. The beef is with the glorified image of reading research that underlies the book and the review. Eichler states the view concisely:

“The problem is not that the field lacks pertinent research, but that the implications of quantitative and qualitative research in education have not been widely recognized, accepted, and implemented as in other professions like medicine. Best practices in education are usually determined by observing skill application—or a lack of—but long-term results are not easily observable, and the majority of teachers are not trained to make instructional decisions based on rigorous, systematic observations that lead to hypotheses that are then tested and refined.”

This has been the traditional party line of the Ed research community and the government. “The research is all right, Jack. It’s you and Jill the teachers who are stupid. You need more Professional Development—(which we also provide when we’re not doing our great research).

The old chestnut comparison to medicine is spurious. Practicing MDs dispense drugs and operate. These services are supported by a highly refined pharmaceutical industry and a hospital system. MDs do not do “rigorous, systematic observations that lead to hypotheses that are then tested and refined.” That task is 10 feet off the ground.

Contrary to the party line,“Long- term results” are indeed easily observable. Kids and parents see them. The public is beginning to see them. Teachers see them—but too late, since the kids have gone on to an “upper grade.” Only researchers can’t see them; prevailing testing instruments and protocols keep them in the dark.

Researchers expect teachers to do the job that they do not know how to do: reliably teach kids to read. And researchers are totally unaccountable. Not sensible, and not fair.

Dick Schutz
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 Maladaptive Glorified Image of Reading Research by Dick Schutz on March 22, 2005
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