Automaticity           

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Automatization

I think the crucial problem with all of language as we use it today is the problem with automatization.  How do we take something that has so many variables, so many possible connections and combinatorial options, and do it without having to think about it?  How do we turn this complicated set of relationships into a skill, ultimately, that can be run, in effect, as though it was a computation? 

What weíre really doing is weíre taking something that is a nightmare for computation and as we mature both as language users but also as readers and writers, we have to automatize it so we donít have to think about those details.  The problem with automatization is that at any step, if youíve got a slowdown step, if any piece of that enterprise has a block, where you canít hold enough of the information, the whole house of cards falls apart.  You canít build beyond that point.

It looks as though, with the acquisition of language itself, speech particularly, that weíve got a lot of redundancy in the system.  We have work arounds that are there, probably evolved there, because it was so important and because there was enough evolutionary time behind that process to build in that safety net.  With respect to reading and writing, there was no evolutionary support.  With respect to reading and writing, there is no safety net.  There are probably very few redundant work arounds that are successful that donít take longer, that arenít more clumsy - arenít so clumsy that they drop something, they donít keep track of it, or theyíre simply too slow to keep up with your memory process.  

Terrence Deacon, Professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of California-Berkeley. Author of The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. Source: COTC Interview: http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/deacon.htm#Automatization

 

Automaticity 

David Boulton:  When you said drop out a moment ago I was wondering if you mean that it falls into automaticity, it falls into being automatic and therefore it no longer requires conscious, volitional effort to workout; itís now in the background and moving on to the next level of challenge.

Dr. Anne Cunningham: Thatís right. And so for example we have an inordinate amount of attention and emphasis placed on, for example, phonology and phonemic awareness in the early stages of beginning reading and at kindergarten and first grade we rightfully spend a lot of time on that. But at some point phonemic awareness itself doesnít become an enabling sub-skill, other variables come into play. Like at the word recognition level understanding and having a deep appreciation of the orthography, how those letters map on to those sounds, becomes a variable that causes maybe increasingly more divergence among readers than phonemic awareness. So as a developmental psychologist, weíre fascinated with looking at those trajectories and how those factors change.

Anne Cunningham, Director of the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education with the Graduate School of Education at the University of
California-Berkeley. Source: COTC Interview - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/cunningham.htm#Automaticity

 

The Matthew Effect

The Matthew Effect was described by Wahlberg and Sty and Keith Stanovich in the domain of reading. It essentially describes what happens to young children when we see the educational disparities that occur and the educational advantages. The Matthew Effect describes what happens over time when some children enter into a positive feedback loop, whereby those who learn to read and break the code with relative ease experience a positive affect and are able to read the text that they are given in schools with fluency. And that fluency develops a level of automaticity and because they develop automaticity with sounds and words theyíre cognitive work space is freed to operate on the meaning of print, the purpose of why children are engaged in it. And so the world opens up to children who have that cognitive space left, who have automatized the code and words.

The converse of this Matthew Effect that Stanovich outlined in the mid 80ís where he developed a model of the educational haveís and have notís in reading is a sadder tale. Those children who experience inordinate difficulty in breaking the code, who arenít able to quickly assemble these sounds and put them into larger units we call words, and rapidly proceed through the sentences donít develop the level of automaticity that allows them to have the cognitive work space available to them. As a result of that lack of automaticity, their resources are taken away and focused on the word level and they arenít able to operate on the meaning.

Anne Cunningham, Director of the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education with the Graduate School of Education at the University of
California-Berkeley. Source: COTC Interview - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/cunningham.htm#MatthewEffect

 

http://www.childrenofthecode.org/library/refs/

 

 


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Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst  Director, Institute of Education Sciences, Assistant Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education
Dr. Jack Shonkoff Chair, The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child; Co-Editor: From Neurons to Neighborhoods
Dr. Edward Kame'enui Commissioner for Special Education Research, U.S. Department of Education; Director, IDEA, University  of Oregon
Dr. G. Reid Lyon  Past Director, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Keith Stanovich  Canadian Chair of Cognitive Science, University of Toronto
Dr. Mel Levine Co-Chair and Co-Founder, All Kinds of Minds; Author: A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness & Ready or Not Here Life Comes
Dr. Alex Granzin  School District Psychologist, Past President, Oregon School Psychologists Association 
Dr. James J. Heckman Nobel Laureate, Economic Sciences 2000; Lead Author: The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children
Dr. Timothy Shanahan President (2006) International Reading Association, Chair National Early Literacy Panel, Member National Reading Panel
Nancy Hennessy  President, 2003-2005, International Dyslexia Association
Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams Senior ScientistSoliloquy Learning, Author: Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print
Dr. Michael Merzenich Chair of Otolaryngology, Integrative Neurosciences, UCSF;  Member National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Maryanne Wolf Director, Center for Reading & Language Research; Professor of Child Development, Tufts University
Dr. Todd Risley  Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Alaska, Co-author: Meaningful Differences
Dr. Sally Shaywitz  Neuroscientist, Department of Pediatrics, Yale University, Author: Overcoming Dyslexia
Dr. Louisa Moats  Director, Professional Development and Research Initiatives, Sopris West Educational Services
Dr. Zvia Breznitz Professor, Neuropsychology of Reading & Dyslexia, University of Haifa, Israel 
Rick Lavoie Learning Disabilities Specialist, Creator: How Difficult Can This Be?: The F.A.T. City Workshop & Last One Picked, First One Picked On
Dr.Charles Perfetti Professor, Psychology & Linguistics; Senior Scientist and Associate Director, Learning R&D Center, U. of Pittsburgh, PA
Arthur J. Rolnick Senior V.P. & Dir. of Research,  Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis;  Co- Author: The Economics of Early Childhood Development  
Dr. Richard Venezky  Professor, Educational Studies, Computer and  Information Sciences, and Linguistics, University of Delaware
Dr. Keith Rayner  Distinguished  Professor, University of Massachusetts, Author: Eye Movements in Reading and Information Processing
Dr. Paula Tallal  Professor of Neuroscience, Co-Director of the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University
Dr.John Searle  Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language, University of California-Berkeley, Author: Mind, A Brief Introduction
Dr.Mark T. Greenberg Director, Prevention Research Center, Penn State Dept. of Human Development & Family Studies; CASEL Leadership Team
Dr. Terrence Deacon  Professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics at University of California- Berkeley
Chris Doherty  Ex-Program Director, National Reading First Program, U.S. Department of Education
Dr. Erik Hanushek Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Dr. Marketa Caravolas Director, Bangor Dyslexia Unit, Bangor University, Author: International Report on Literacy Research
Dr. Christof Koch Professor of Computation and Neural Systems,  Caltech - Author: The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach
Dr. Guy Deutscher Professor of Languages and Cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia, Holland; Author: Unfolding Language
Robert Wedgeworth  President, ProLiteracy, World's Largest Literacy Organization
Dr. Peter Leone  Director, National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice
Dr. Thomas Cable  Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin, Co-author: A History of the English Language
Dr. David Abram Cultural Ecologist and Philosopher; Author: The Spell of the Sensuous
Pat Lindamood and Nanci Bell  Principal Scientists, Founders, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes
Dr. Anne Cunningham  Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education, Graduate School of Education at University of California-Berkeley
Dr. Donald L. Nathanson  Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Jefferson Medical College, Director of the Silvan S. Tomkins Institute 
Dr.Johanna Drucker  Chair of Media Studies, University of Virginia, Author: The Alphabetic Labyrinth
John H. Fisher  Medievalist, Leading authority on the development of the written English language, Author: The Emergence of Standard English
Dr. Malcolm Richardson   Chair, Dept. of English, Louisiana State University; Research: The Textual Awakening of the English Middle Classes  
James Wendorf  Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities
Leonard Shlain Physician; Best-Selling Author: The Alphabet vs. The Goddess
Robert Sweet  Co-Founder, National Right to Read Foundation

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