By Rhonda Stone, M.P.A.
Read Right Tutor & Communications
One of my favorite photographs arrived in our offices during the summer a few years back. It was sent to us by a middle school reading remediation tutor in the process of being trained to eliminate reading problems with Read Right methodology.
Educators love when students enjoy cooperating with instructional methods. The favored photo shows a small group of students working with a tutor to improve reading ability–and each is beaming in the photo. The image has another important message: Four hands–white, black, and brown–coming together in a joyous high-five.
Today, educators and parents are often frustrated by promises for success that “packaged” reading intervention programs make. The promise: “Do this and your student’s reading ability will be easily transformed.” Well, it’s not that easy. If it were, America’s schools would not be struggling to make those promises work.
Every reading problem is different from student to student, but the source is ALWAYS the same–and understanding the source is pure brain science: The neural network that the struggling reader built to guide the process of reading is flawed. The only way to eliminate reading problems is to guide each individual student through the complex process of building a new neural network designed for only one purpose: to comprehend an author’s message.
It sounds logical and perhaps even easy, but popular reading theory has the entire reading field off track. Popular theory claims students must first learn to decode individual words, then become fast and efficient at identifying each word in text, then expand vocabulary to expand concept knowledge, and–finally–learn comprehension strategies to make sense of text.
Instead of solving reading problems, popular theory contributes to them–and creates unhappy students who resist reading because it’s hard and reading seldom make sense. Students directed to improve reading ability this way may experience modest improvement, but the methods cannot eliminate the reading problem.
It cannot happen because proficient reading ability requires complex cognitive processing, such as the type of neural processing required for talking, walking, bicycle riding, and other complex neurobiological work. All of these (and every process performed by the human brain) require implicit brain function that spontaneously connects explicit knowledge associated with the an activity to the implicitly functioning brain systems that must be activated to make the process work. No one can control that which is “implicit” because the activities occur below the level of conscious awareness.
“Implicit learning” is controversial because it is often misunderstood by the reading field. The field of neuroscience recognizes that implicit work is the nature of brain function. However, human procedural learning requires integration of multiple implicit memory systems, as well as multiple brain systems responsible for managing specific functions. Thus, it requires unified process-oriented learning, NOT instruction in individual parts and pieces.
The Read Right solution for reading problems is this: Optimize the use of implicit procedural learning to build a new neural network to guide all activity associated with reading.
It sounds simple–but it isn’t. In fact, the idea is so complex and the related methods are so revolutionary that the reading field struggles to understand how they work. Understanding begins with accepting one controversial premise: The cause of virtually all reading problems (including most dyslexia) is flawed reading instruction.
Read Right methods are grounded in a proper understanding of implicity procedural learning. As a result, they work–and that is what makes everyone smile.