Oral vs. Written Language–Two Talks on Twitter

In the last 24 hours, I’ve participated in two different but intersecting discussions on Twitter—one on phonics, the other on autism. Their point of intersection: the question of oral vs. written language.

First, Phonics

The phonics discussion was one I couldn’t help jumping into. A distinguished education professor and specialist in reading instruction dismissed someone’s linguistically accurate observations about consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) patterns by telling them they should take a class in linguistics. I’ve taken many classes in linguistics, so I piped in as follows:
Continue reading

Do all children learn differently?

1. No, they don’t

First of all, I agree with Emily Hanford’s tweet: our brains are much more similar than different.

The way I think about this is to ask myself whether evolution would be likely to create many, many millions of creatures who all, every last one of them, learn differently. 

Do all goats learn differently?

Do all birds learn differently?

All fish?

Continue reading

Do gifted readers exist?

With math, giftedness is obvious (I think).

Is it the same thing with reading and writing? 

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born, the last of three children, on Sept. 15, 1890, to the former Clarissa Boehmer (known as Clara), who was susceptible to fads and spiritualism, and Frederick Miller, a jolly idler whose death in 1901 left the family in reduced circumstances. This being an era when cutting back, for the middle-class Millers, meant renting out their Torquay house and decamping to Paris and Cairo. Childhood education was sporadic. Clara disapproved of formal schooling and of children learning to read before the age of 8, so her daughter taught herself. “I’m afraid Miss Agatha can read, ma’am,” the nanny announced apologetically when the girl was just 4.

Agatha Christie’ Review: The Queen of the Cozy by Anna Mundow | Wall Street Journal |  3/2/2018

Autism, neurodiversity, and language learning, Part III

(Part III in a series of posts that will eventually take us to a highly contagious and dangerously inaccurate meme about what autism is.)

Let’s begin here by augmenting the scenario discussed in part II: Imagine yourself going to another country where you don’t know the language and spending several years there seemingly immersed in that language, and that:

  1. all your basic needs are taken care, such that you don’t actually need to interact with anyone, and
  2. for whatever reason, you mostly choose not to interact with anyone, even passively, such that:
  3. even as you hear the syllables coming out of people’s mouths, you manage to hardly ever pay attention to what those who utter these syllables are doing, looking at, or otherwise attending to.

In this situation, I argued, you would learn very little of the spoken language.

Continue reading