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Myths about Reading
First, let me say a few words about the "Cambridge University Effect" which has been flying around the internet for the past few years.  It is really disappointing how popular this silly parlor trick is.

To start with, there has never been any published research conducted at Cambridge or any other university that shows that the order of letters in a word is not important.  And there is reputable research that shows that MOST OF THE TIME, the serial position in letters within words is very important.

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The Top 10 Myths of Reading Instruction

Sebastian Wren, Ph.D.


Michael Pressley, in his excellent book, "Reading Instruction that Works," concluded with a discussion of what he considered to be "Ten Dumb and Dangerous Claims about Reading Instruction."  All of his points were excellent, but I wondered if he would say this was his "top ten" list of dangerous myths about reading instruction.  I agree with all of his points, but there were some myths that did not make his list that I think are also dangerous.  I strongly recommend picking up a copy of Pressley's book to review his "top ten" list (the book is well written and highly informative), but here I want to go through what I think are the most damaging myths and misconceptions about reading instruction.  I'll begin with a myth that did not make Pressley's "top ten" list, but which I consider to be the most pernicious myth of all, and I'll count down from there.  (You can download a PDF version of this article if you would rather not read it on-line).

Myth #1 -- Learning to read is a natural process

Myth #2 -- Children will eventually learn to read if given enough time

Myth #3 -- Reading programs are "successful"

Myth #4 -- We used to do a better job of teaching children to read

Myth #5 -- Reading involves using syntax and semantics cues to "guess" words, and good readers make many "mistakes" as they read authentic text

Myth #6 -- Research can be used to support whatever your beliefs are -- lots of programs are "research based"

Myth #7 -- Phoneme awareness is a consequence (not a cause) of reading acquisition

Myth #8 -- Some people are just genetically "dyslexic"

Myth #9 -- Short-term tutoring for struggling readers can get them caught up with their peers, and the gains will be sustained

Myth #10 -- If it is in the curriculum, then the children will learn it, and a balanced reading curriculum is ideal

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Last Updated 1-1-09