Blog Learning to Read’s “Dark” Secret

January 2, 2022

by Rhonda Stone
Master of Public Administration–Education Policy/Reading
Read Right Systems

The switch turns on and off, like a light in a windowless room. When it’s on, everything is seen. When it’s off, all is unseen–and whoever is in the room must feel their way through the darkness.

Learning to read is much like this. It has two distinct functions. For one function (explicit learning), the light is on and we “see” letters and words on the page. Thus, it can be easily assumed that learning the “code” (or, more specifically, how to decode every individual word using the letters on the page identified in order, from left to right) is the only path to reading success. For the other (implicit operation), the light is off and we cannot possibly see deep within the human brain and what is happening when an individual reads successfully–and unsuccessfully.

No expert who knows human brain function (neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists) would disagree that the human brain uses distinctly different neural systems to process “explicit” information (that which we can see, hear, and declare) and “implicit” operations (what our brains do to keep us both alive and constantly learning). Why, then, have reading experts completely ignored the role of implicit operation as the single most important factor in reading failure and success? The sounds that letters on the page make are easy to learn. Nudging implicit brain systems to do the right things with those sounds is what reading experts have wrong.

It is learning to read’s dark secret–and understanding how brains actually function sheds light on what the reading field is ignoring.

Becoming a successful reader is NOT about learning to decode and otherwise identify individual words. It is impossible. Neuroscience has documented that the human brain cannot process more than 3 to 7 bits of information at a time before it reaches capacity and starts all over again by wiping short-term/working memory clean! Reading is NOT about identifying every single word on a page and adding up the words to figure out the meaning. Again, adding up individual words violates the limits of brain capacity.

Becoming a successful reader IS about efficiency in complex cognitive processing. Who would argue with that? Such efficiency can only occur when the human brain figures out how to integrate multiple forms of knowledge into the singular act of making sense of text. Rather than focus on individual words, the brain MUST focus on using minimal alphabetic information to recreate the message that an author intended to communicate. Like an orchestra, these things must work together in harmony: minimal information from letters and spaces on the page; immediate recognition of punctuation and its essential contribution to meaning; instantaneous connection with a variety of knowledge already stored in the mind of the reader; and more.

Figuring out how these things work together, honestly, is IMPOSSIBLE. Figuring out how to nudge a new or struggling reader to do the right things to make complex processing happen is POSSIBLE. Read Right developer Dr. Dee Tadlock has done it and has a 40-year track record of success guiding individuals with mild to severe reading problems out of the darkness that comes with reading failure.

For our Online Tutoring Service, Read Right offers an eight-session guarantee. No one else does that. If, after eight tutoring sessions, a student does not demonstrate a reduction in symptoms as compared to the initial assessment, the client can request a refund of the eight sessions. Read Right can offer this because it works.