Monday, September 21, 2015

"Teachers Aren't Dumb," New York Times

It is a relief to see the issue of poor teacher training being highlighted by Daniel T. Willingham, who correctly observes that many university professors tasked with preparing their students for reading instruction cannot themselves perform basic literacy tasks such as identifying phonemes or morphemes ("Teachers Aren't Dumb", New York Times, Op-Ed, Sept. 8, 2015).

Recent emphasis by university writing faculty on "writing as process", whereby students are expected to improve their writing abilities by constant journaling, has deemphasized the necessity of language teachers learning nuts-and-bolts basics such as word-classification, clause-identification, punctuation, syntax, or morphology. This quite certainly leaves intending teachers (and future university instructors) "in the dark", as Professor Willingham puts it, and doomed to repeat the cycle of ignorance with their own students.

Universities and colleges have an obligation to provide their students, particularly those training for the professions, with sound, useful instruction. If graduates of reading or writing programs cannot explicitly describe their language, they have been failed by their institutions.

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