Reading is Unnatural               

Index:


Related Video(s):

Why? What's Involved: Causes and Contributing Factors
Unnatural Confusion

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Reading is Unnatural

Number one, we know that reading is complex. And most people give it short shrift as I did when I was a third grade teacher. I just took it for granted. It's one of the most complex, unnatural cognitive interactions that brain and environment have to coalesce together to produce.

G. Reid Lyon, Past- Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Current senior vice president for research and evaluation with Best Associates. Source: COTC Interview - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/lyon.htm#Whatweknow

No Evolutionary Support for Reading

Dr. Zvia Breznitz: Let me say that the human brain has existed about 60,000 years as such.

David Boulton: As such, yes, depending on whose information you take. Sixty to two hundred thousand years as far as we can tell in terms of language effects on our outward physiology, yes.

Dr. Zvia Breznitz: Yes, but no system was devoted alongside the evolution of language to reading. Nothing. Nothing to reading. So, basically I think that the reading activity needed to develop itís own kind of system and develop the abilities like a muscle. The brain is a muscle. If you donít develop it appropriately, youíll get up to 80% of Americans that canít read. Or here in Israel, or with the Ehiopians who also canít read right.

We have the same problem, not so much the extent, but we have the same difficulties. 

Zvia Breznitz, Director, Laboratory for Neurocognitive Research, University of Haifa. Source: COTC Interview - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/breznitz.htm#NoEvolutionarySupportforReading

Reading is Not a Natural Act

Itís not a natural act. Language is natural, itís something weíre hard wired for. And there are many theorists and researchers and linguists who have shown us that. But reading is not natural. Reading is an unnatural act that we have to lead young children through in a very detailed and systematic way. As one colleague said, why would we leave a little seven year old to discover what took us thousands of years to discover as a human beings? There are things that we can do to lead children to understand this orthography and to understand that itís not natural, itís inordinately complex.

Anne Cunningham, Director, 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#Readingisliketech

Dispelling the Myth that Reading is Natural

Reading is not natural. Speaking, language, oral language is natural. What does a baby do when it's born? It cries. It's natural. But reading has to be learned and has to be taught. It is not a natural activity. It is a difficult activity for a significant percentage of children.

James Wendorf, Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities. Source: COTC Interview - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/wendorf.htm#DispellingtheMyth

Reading is Unnatural    

We weren't born with an alphabet in our brain. The alphabet is an invention. Man, humanity, invented the alphabet, or the sound symbol system, and when you invent something it isn't natural. It's unnatural, as you say.

Robert Sweet, Founder, National Right to Read Foundation, Retired professional staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. Source: COTC Interview - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/sweet.htm


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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

FULL LIST OF OVER 100 COMPLETED INTERVIEWS

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The Children of the Code is a Social Education Project and a Public Television Series intended to catalyze and resource a social-educational transformation in how we think about and, ultimately, teach reading. The Children of the Code is an entertaining educational journey into the challenges our children's brains face when learning to read. The series weaves together archeology, history, linguistics, developmental neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, information theory, reading theory, learning theory, and the personal and social dimensions of illiteracy. 


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