Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Irvine & Larson...the reading for 6/12
So, I just finished reading the article by Irvine & Larson; and really, I feel like I just wasted a good part of my life. Beyond the article being concerned with literacy programs for k-3rd graders (which has no direct relation to my role as a secondary science teacher), the article was repetitive and nauseating. However, I do appreciate that the authors explained their methods for collecting this 'data.' This article is based on classroom observations that Larson conducted. The observation notes and video footage were then coded into data by Irvine and Larson. The classrooms being observed were situated in an urban district that was attempting to implement new literacy programs in its elementary schools. There were several programs chosen, and different programs were piloted in different classrooms. This was to allow the district to figure out which program was the 'best.' What Irvine & Larson found through their study is that none of the programs were effective. This ineffectiveness is a consequence of the deficit model of thinking that all of the teachers (black and white) brought into the classroom about urban students. "All teachers in the study perceived students' social class and language as deficits, overlooking the cultural and linguistic resources that students do bring to school" (pp. 18). Within these literacy programs, there was "too much" for the teachers to actually accomplish, so the teachers "selected some activities and ignored others, relying heavily on their previous practices. In interviews, they explained how they selected activities from a series to meet the perceived needs of their students" (pp. 19). In doing this, the teachers "selected language arts activities that were aimed not at the comprehension of whole texts but at developing language subskills" (pp. 23). Overall, Irvine & Larson concluded that "a literacy package neither standardized the reading curriculum nor trained teachers to be better at reading instruction" (pp. 40). At this point in my comment, you might be asking yourself why I called this article nauseating. Well, in order to fully understand this, you should get this article, skim through, and read some of the quotes that the teachers in the study made about their students, their students' abilities, and their students' potentials. Some people should not be teachers and it makes me sick to think about some of the attitudes and perceptions that our students have to deal with when they come to school. Eg: If you don't think that kids can achieve and have potential then don't be a teacher...go work at a bank or something. Overall, the article wasn't a bad read. Irrelevant to my life? yes. Would I read it again? no. Do I think elementary teachers should read it? yes.