Is The Blob Suppressing An Important New Education Book?

Oct 9, 2013 by

m adamsBob Rose – Almost a year ago, the famous education author, Marilyn Adams, formerly of Harvard and now a professor at Brown University, published her latest book, ABC Foundations For Young Children, in which she presents newly published proof that most American kids finishing first-grade still can’t name and write all of the alphabet letters.  She points out that the ensuing disaster is particularly harmful to the children of the poor and of minority parents, and devotes the rest of the book to explaining and showing exactly how parents, pre-schools and grade school teachers can teach the writing of the alphabet letters.

In personal email to me, Adams went on to point out that the best way to predict reading success in rising first-graders is their abity to automatically name randomly presented alphabet letters.

This skill, known to school psychologists as the Rapid Automatic Naming of letters (RAN/letters) is the best predictor of reading success, was widely known for many years, but it was widely assumed that such alphabet knowledge was simply a correlate of having well-educated, affluent parents.  It is now know this isn’t true, and that skill in writing (and presumably in naming) the alphabet letters is simply a matter of being taught to do so, and rather more practice than is generally assumed.

That the ability to write the alphabet letters may be the most important factor in preventing reading problems runs counter to the current thinking of literacy mavens of both the left and the right.

The former tend to believe that “phonics” and “phonemic awareness” are the essential missing skills, whereas the latter are still in the belief, in spite of Jean Chall’s writings, that “meaning” is the thing that teachers must emphasize.

Maybe it’s the fear of offending readers, viewers and voters that makes this book untouchable by journalists, politicians and television commentators, but Adams asked me and an acquaintance to write amazon reviews for the book about six months ago.

As of today, there is strangely only one more five-star review on the amazon books website, and the book appears to be selling less well that reprints of Adams more famous book, Beginning To Read which first appeared in 1990.

To date I can find no on-line reviews of the book, and I haven’t heard about it in my reading or television watching.

This leads to the possibility that educators are purposefully trying to ignore the message in the hope they will be able to correct the problem before the public even finds out about it.

Interesting question!

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