Reading Comprehension

    Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.

   I don’t know why anyone is worried about offending Muslims. Some people are offended all the time and there is nothing anyone can do about it. In the bad old days when I was a civil servant, the egregiously underemployed were always rattling on about being offended about something. The gallant Poles were kept out of the London Victory Parade to avoid offending Stalin–how did that work out, one may ask?.

   Now for something completely different. One of the difficulties of reading is the conflation of see-say (what most people think of as reading) with comprehension, a completely different set of skills. Whenever I get a standard student that the educational system identifies as having difficulty in comprehension, it’s almost invariably a difficulty with writing. One of the hallmarks of autistic children is the inability to comprehend what is read. Below, Don Crawford, outlines the difficulty with comprehension, which depends on vocabulary, background knowledge and general intelligence. Improvement in comprehension requires an incredible amount of time. For example, the metaphor, “Beat around the bush” requires a lot of teaching to explain.

“Teaching comprehension is most like trying to teach jokes to students who don’t get them.  You may be able to explain why this one joke is funny, but how much is that going to help with the next joke?  Explaining jokes is no fun for either party and it will miss the point.  Yes, people who are smart "get" jokes, but that doesn’t mean that explaining jokes to people who don’t "get" them will do you any good. 
You can teach vocabulary, you can teach background knowledge, and you can help students practice decoding until it is automatic, all of which will increase the likelihood of comprehension–which is what Zig did in Reading Mastery, but that doesn’t quickly generalize to "comprehension" of other unfamiliar texts. It takes tons and tons of outside reading for that to happen and so far I’ve only seen people who were smart to begin with, do enough outside reading to show up in their comprehension.”    

Don Crawford, Ph.D.
R&D Instructional Solutions, LLC: The Home of Rocket Math

Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “
Days of Songs and Mirrors: A Jacobite in the ‘45.”
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies


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