Culture, oral language in relation to culture, and identity are an integral part of the reading process; they cannot be treated separately. Models of reading theory often leave out these components potentially reinforcing the concept that students are a ‘blank slate’ and need the same teaching. Equity, diversity and inclusion must always be included in models and conversations regarding reading.
Thinking and researching for a presentation on ‘Orton-Gillingham and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy’ (CRP) (Orton-Gillingham Academy Conference 2022) brought to light the disconnect between the student, their identity and reading models. CRP centers the student: their heritage, language, intersectionalities. Every part of the ‘Simple View of Reading’ and ‘Scarborough’s Rope’ can be connected back to culture and oral language (which itself is directly related to culture/heritage). Teachers of reading must understand these connections because it informs how best to teach the student and what they need to learn to be successful in school. This is especially critical because school uses Standard American English, both in its oral language and in its medium for reading and writing. Not all students come to school with a background in Standard American English; but they do come with an asset background from their own oral language. These students need to be taught the phonemic awareness, phonemes, phonics skills, etc to be successful decoders. School focuses, for comprehension, mostly (exclusively?) on texts written from a White European Colonial stance. Many students come to school with assets from different heritages and worldviews. Readings must be diversified to include representative texts, so students see themselves and their identities positively reflected in their literacy experiences. CRP is not filling in background knowledge on the White Colonial Worldview to facilitate comprehension of those texts. Students must have their own identity validated and honored. The literacy class offers a rich space for students to learn about themselves, the world and other heritages to foster understanding and a global citizenry.
The ‘Culture View of Reading’* is a way of thinking about these pieces and how they can be put together. It takes a step forward to connect various components of reading theory and links them to what comes from culture and what comes from oral language. The educator must reflect as they move from culture and oral language to teaching literacy with CRP to truly meet the needs of the unique students in their classes.
Not connecting literacy teaching and experiences to the identities of students will only further marginalize the marginalized. Literacy instruction cannot be presumed as something isolated from identities, both for decoding and comprehension. These identities inform the starting points. To truly teach the student, it is imperative to teach the ‘whole student’ through CRP: asset-based thinking, high expectations, developing and honoring student identity, engaging in criticality. Concepts like equity, diversity, and inclusion are only worthwhile if they result in equity of outcome for ALL students. Achieving competence at grade-level literacy sets a student up for future success in life. This is the equity. Literacy is a Human Right.
*Note: ‘The Culture View of Reading’ is the intellectual property of Cheryl Urbanczyk & Learn Literacy. The graphic and concept can be used without change but must be referenced/attributed to ‘Learn Literacy’. Thank you for keeping the goodwill of sharing intellectual property that is properly attributed.
‘The Culture View of Reading’ is the intellectual property of Cheryl Urbanczyk & Learn Literacy. The graphic and concept can be used without change but must be referenced/attributed to ‘Learn Literacy’. Thank you for keeping the goodwill of sharing intellectual property that is properly attributed.
This conversation opens with a discussion of the OHRC Right to Read inquiry in relation to marginalized groups. I discuss the idea behind this infographic, provide an overview of the 'Culture View of Reading' and explain the important role of culturally responsive pedagogy in reading instruction.
The article focuses on how 'science of reading' must include issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion to ensure supportive literacy instruction/learning. Student identity is the starting point.