The Correct Reading Alliance People: A New Bottle (spoiler: same old wine)

And now we cross live, for the launch of the Correct Reading Alliance People.

Interviewer: I’d like to welcome Professor Donna Kruger to the launch of a visionary new initiative, called the Correct Reading Alliance People. Welcome, Professor Kruger.

Professor Kruger: Thank you John, delighted to be here.

I: So what exactly is the Correct Reading Alliance People?

P: Well a group of us, who have been ignoring the findings of cognitive science for some time, banded together, because with our combined authoritative veneer, we could see there was a real need at the moment for a meaningless defence of our position.

There’s a lot of misinformation put out there by us and we feel it’s getting missed by teachers, leaders and policy makers.

So what we’ve done is redefined the notion of expert to describe only us, and then presented our opinions, in plain Doublespeak.

I: With a few empty platitudes sprinkled in?

P: With a few empty platitudes sprinkled in! How else would we be able to show how deeply we care about our opinions?

I: Well, certainly not by teaching teachers to teach reading!

P: Exactly, but making teachers and parents feel better about illiterate children is what really counts here. And not only that, but parents, teachers, school leaders, community members and politicians also need to find ways of accepting that 15% of children not being able to read is totally fine.

I: And do you have a way of maintaining or even increasing this 15%?

P: Well we do, but, far be it from us to ever tell teachers what to do! Teachers are the most joyful, inquisitive, creative, wonderful little creatures and that needs to be nurtured, not stifled by directives or facts or research or heaven forbid… thinking!

I :* gasps* Are there really some monsters out there asking teachers to think?

P: Yes! We see it all the time. So we’ve decided to disqualify anyone who was not us, you know, like speech-language professionals, or psychologists, or cognitive scientists or those nasty little linguists with their knowledge and resources, and we’re challenging them with the big doozy question that always shuts them up!

I: And what’s that question?

P: Have you ever been hopelessly confused by your not fit for purpose degree ? No? Didn’t think so!

I: Fantastic! If those guys never got a low quality set of useless tools to set them and their students up for failure, how could they even dare to comment about the authentic, lived experience of so many teachers?

P: Certainly not the ones we’re churning out!

I: Amen!

P: And that’s the essence of C.R.A.P.! Although we do also have the 11 commandments that all teachers need to learn to recite before we give them their certificates.

I: Don’t you mean 10 commandments?

P: No. These commandments go up to 11.

I: Oh, I see. And most commandments go up to 10?

P: Exactly.

I: Does that mean they’re better?

P: Well it’s one better, isn’t it? It’s not 10. You see most experts, you know, will be doing a top 10. You’re on 10, all the way up. Where can you go from there? Where?

I: I don’t know.

P: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do ?

I: Make up an 11th commandment?

P: 11. Exactly. One bigger.

I: Why not just make 10 really good ones?

P: *pause* Ours go to 11.

I: OK and what sort of things are in your top 11?

P: Well, I thought you’d never ask. Firstly we talk about how important reading is.

I: Because some people say it’s not ?

P: Well people who can’t read say it’s not. So we’d like to come right out at the start and really rub it into that unlucky 15% that if they can’t read, life is going to be pretty rubbish.

I: Got it. So to the 15%, straight off the bat: you’re screwed!

P: Precisely. Then we go on to say that the only thing you need to be good at to read is oral language.

I: Not decoding?

P: Wash your mouth out! Decoding is the opposite of joy!

I: Sorry.

P: Then we talk about how much pleasure and power the fortunate 85% are going to have over the 15%.

I: Nice touch.

P: Right. But even if they can’t read or write, they can still be lovely and creative and imaginative in their own heads.

I: They just can’t share it in print.

P : Precisely. Never let learning to read and write get in the way of a good daydream. It’s the same with making sense. It’s all got to make sense right from the start.

I: Oh, so when five year olds get lists of words to take home and memorise as whole, decontextualized, disconnected from similar words, undefined units that they later can’t spell, it’s all to help them make sense ?

P: You’re really getting the hang of the C.R.A.P. way!

I: Thank you!

P: What’s C.R.A.Pper still, is our 6th commandment. It goes like like this : Stanislas Dehaene doesn’t know Jack about individual children. Don’t listen to him. I know it’s tempting, with his rich, Gallic tones and his machines that go ‘ping’…

I: Do you mean his functional magnetic resonance imaging equipment at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research?

P: Yeah. What would he know about the lived experience of being confused by Ken Goodman?

I: Hack.

P: Right. So anyway, that leads us into the vaguest part of our commandment panoply: If we just hint that reading is a good idea, 85% will figure it out, in their own creative, joyful way.

I: And the 15%?

P: Well we’ve already established in commandments 1 and 3 that joy, pleasure and power are beyond their grasp so who cares? I mean if the 15% aren’t going to eat at the banquet table of multiple engagement opportunities, learner negotioation, guesswork and the idea of confidence, then that’s neither our circus nor our monkeys.

I: Okay . So how can we make sure we’re doing enough to keep that 15% where they belong?

P: Well, through the C.R.A.P. assessment protocols of course! Or the C.R.A.P.-A.P as we like to call it! The C.R.A.P.-A.P ensures that those annoying features like assessment validity and reliability don’t get in the way of a child’s confidence, even if they don’t learn to read or write. We can use C.R.A.P.-A.Ps to show growth in confidence, in having ago, in looking at pictures…

I: We all love the pictures!

P: Quite…and skipping words, and guessing and staring at pages pretending to read…

I: And don’t forget concepts of print!

P: Absolutely! As long as a kid knows where the front cover and index are and what a caption is for, they can go ahead and daydream their way to knowledge!

I: Visionary! So what else have you got?

P: Well, it was getting towards tea time so we thought we’d round off with a quick SBO.

I: SBO?

P: Oh, sorry industry jargon: Statement of the Bleeding Obvious.

I: Which is?

P: That we need to keep on teaching kids stuff after the first couple of years. Even if they haven’t actually learned to read or write anything we just need to go on and on. I think it’s a point worth making, because some of those non experts in their right wing think tanks and research institutes have come up with ways of teaching kids to read and write in the first two years of schooling.

I: Even the 15%?

P: Even the 15%!

I: The swine!

P: I know! Never let it be forgotten that it’s not well designed, easy to follow, effective, research based resources that teach kids to read , it’s hearts.

I: Hearts?

P: Hearts of confused, overworked, under-resourced teachers. We’re sick of them being undermined by quality approaches that bring universal success.

I: Oh that should be a commandment!

P: Well actually that is number 10.

I: Hurrah! So I take it commandment 11 is a revelation of the big technique, the culmination of decades of research, the consensus among those who truly understand the big picture?

P: Yes!

I: I can hardly wait!

P: Here it is.  *clears throat *Are you sitting down?

I: * Squeals*

P: *clears throat* If you can’t read, it’s your mother’s fault.

I: Glory be! Professor Kruger, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be here with you and launch the C.R.A.P. Initiative. 85% of the children of Australia thank you for your efforts in maintaining the status quo.

P: Thank you!

14 comments

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