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Expertise and Dysexpertise

Posted By: Dick Schutz on July 10, 2007
Acquiring expertise in reading follows the same trajectory as acquiring expertise in any other complex skill—driving a car, learning to read music, learning how to use new computer software, and so on. The progression is from “jerking” “many errors” to automaticity and good expression. It is counter productive to apply “fluency” and “dysfluency to reading ard to attempt to teach it as such in and of it's own right.

Allington's examples of how teachers can inadvertently teach maladaptive patterns that impede the acquisition of reading expertise only begin th scratch the surface. The unique characteristic of reading is that it entails learning how to handle the Rules of Grapheme/Phoneme Correspondence that constitute the Alphabetic Code which provide the link between spoken and written English and the few additional morphemic and syntactic conventions that the child has not previously acquired using spoken language.

These matters are not all that complicated. Many kids acquire them intuitively without formal instruction or in the face of mis-instruction. It's the kids who don't that should be the focus of professional concern. Allington's nostrums misdirect attention to band-aid amelioration at best. With a sound sequence of instruction “fluency” can be attained from the very earliest stages of instruction. With mis-instruction, attempts to bootstrap the matter at a later stage are “too little and too late.”

Dick Schutz
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 Expertise and Dysexpertise by Dick Schutz on July 10, 2007
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