Beliefs of Frank Smith
The development of the reading theory is attributed to massive scholarly works of various educational researchers including Frank Smith. Frank Smith is a psychologist who is ardently recognized for his immense research work in the fields of linguistics coupled with cognitive psychology. He explores especially how cognitive and linguistics interact and influence the reading process.
Together with Kenneth Goodman, people regard them as the inventors of the current psycholinguistic protocols of reading guides. Among many educational scholarly text that have been published by Smith, his beliefs in the development of linguistics are well brought out in Understanding Reading: A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Reading And Learning to Read.
This text brings the concepts of cognitive and psycholinguistic psychology together, making propositions of how students can apply them in the reading process. Unification of language, reader and text is crucial for effective reading process. In fact, this entangled a paramount concern of Goodman and Smith when they developed a unified single reading process (Goodman, 1989, p.115). The inputs of Smith in the language and literacy have significantly influenced the modern linguistic and literacy practiced utilized in the modern environments of learning.
The better part of Smith’s work confines itself to introspection of the linguistic approaches deployed by teachers in the classrooms in an endeavor to provide an enhancement of the literacy developments. Educators deserve to initiate and proactively involve their students in literacy practices that are meaningful, and which can help advance students literacy skills (Smith, 1986, p.35). Such experiences entangle practices such as letter writing and novel reading among others.
Opposed to memory focused reading approach, Smith advocates for reading approaches that reflect personal experiences. In this context, he argues that teachers should encourage reading of literacy texts that enable and gives the student many opportunities to reflect on the past life experiences. To him this has the capacity to improve the grasping and the capacity to articulate and attach meanings to texts better (Smith, 1986, p.47). Smith believes that student ought to utilize the written and spoken language only in the real world, the world in which they live. This world shapes students ways of life depending on the experiences they encounter.
Opposed to measuring the students performance based on outcomes of tests, according to Smith, measuring performance from samples of works done by students coupled with observations made by teachers gives a better indication of cognitive and ability to articulate the concepts learnt in the real life. In fact, he argues out that “the best teachers in schools and out are the ones who make subjects engrossing and comprehensive” (Smith, 2001, p.572). From this line of thought, arguably, Smith believes that teachers should rather be more of mentors than managers of the learning process.
This way, teachers would contribute in a big way in fostering experience oriented learning, which is subtle for making the students better writers and readers of the future. As a way of mentoring students, students should see and hear teachers read aloud. Reading a loud has the capacity to make students grasp new concepts presented in the texts that they could not have conceptualized earlier. Even though, Smith advocates for experience-based learning, as opposed to test-based evaluation, he does not disregard the purposes that standards aim to accomplish concerning the educational goals of the students. Rather he argues that such standards should be more reflective of the student’s needs rather than relying on universal anticipations.
Beliefs of Patrick Shannon
Patrick Shannon has at once taught primary and pre-primary grade pupils. Together with other education theorists such as Nel Noddings, and David Purpel Patrick Shannon, believes in the educational freedom: which they argue it should comprise part of the modern society. His impeccable research across North America has perhaps seen him editing, authoring or co-authoring nine books all stressing on this belief. His most recent publications come with the titles Education and Cultural Studies, The struggle to continue, and Reading Poverty amongst others.
In these texts, he objects the mandated standards that student must attain as a way of measuring their performance in schools. He claims, “Mandated standards have devastating effects of children’s learning and on the quality of democratic community life” (Shannon, 1990, p.79). He, therefore, bears a vision for freedom of educational systems and concerns for cultural diversity. This vision in a substantial way serves to challenge the long held philosophies and ideological inclinations characterizing the current corporate sates.
The Struggle to Continue gives a thorough description of the philosophies, which form the basis of the concepts of alternative literacy alongside with their practices. Patrick Shannon advocates for child-centered literacy programs. His concerns perhaps makes lots of impacts since the majority of the American schools deploys child focused and critical literacy approaches in their teaching.
He contends that “literacy teaching need not reinvent the theory and inspiration for struggle” (Shannon, 1990, p.35).Teachers look at the alternative literacy programs as alternative approaches that have the capacity to give an ardent solution to the contemporary issues surrounding the modern teaching and learning approaches. Patrick Shannon strongly believes that this alternative literacy approaches “develop from a tradition in the history of American education” (Shannon, 1990, p.93).
Shannon believes that literacy has social, economic and cultural values ingrained in it. These values give “it’s owner a head start in the race for success within groups and society” (Shannon, 2000, p.63). In this context, he believes that literacy is a commodity that is worth commercializing in the sense that people purchase the various forms of the literacy either to improve socially, culturally or even increase literacy amongst kids in school.
Many education theorists contend that reading effective instructions, coupled with intervention programs, stand an excellent chance of enabling kids develop skills in phonics, capacity to comprehend information, vocabulary and fluency skills that are systematic. Although, Shannon object this perception he beliefs that such an endeavor is a question of economic wellness of people. This is rather consistent with Bargley (1911) view that “Primarily schooling is a problem of the economy; it seeks to determine in what manner the working unit may be made to return the largest dividend upon the material investment of time, energy, and money” (p.2). From a different dimension, the education systems driven by economic concerns as presented by Shannon have the capacity to take up the place of intellectual freedoms that fosters cultural diversities.
Comparing Smith with Shannon
Evidently, Smith and Shannon have incredible concerns about coming up with an ardent understanding of the developments of literacy in schools coupled with the enhancement of reading instructions. However, they present differing viewpoints about the route taken by the literacy education. For Shannon, cultural diversity is a prominent phenomenon in the learning process. However, it provides different perceptions about the learning process and the capacity to attach meanings to information. In this context, cultural concerns end up perhaps in the diversion of the intended meaning of the texts. This acts as a significant impediment for advocating for a standardized education learning system. However, this acts as a meeting point between the beliefs of the two theorists.
Smith believes that employment of the strategies that would enable students attach meaning to literal works based on their experience gives them an opportunity to interact more proactively with a real world. People coming from different cultures, including the authors of the literacy works themselves, more often than not construct this real world. What the two philosophies infer is that, in a multicultural learning environment, cultural diversity should get a consideration in the way students view, communicate, read and express their responses upon reading various works.
In The struggle to Continue, Shannon perhaps brings the agreement of the two personal philosophies of both Shannon and Smith. In this book, similar to Smith’s concerns, Shannon advocates for child-centered teaching approaches. In this way, both theorists appreciate the fact that kids deserve go through reading models that foster self-directed learning strategies. Therefore, they both encourage teachers to adopt these models if at all they wish to see their kids succeed in education and, consequently, their life endeavors.
Developments in reading take place in a process that incorporates several aspects that are child centered. Some of these aspects include bearing in mind the characteristics of a child reader, the reading activity itself, and the characteristics of the text under investigation. The context, within which the reader reads the texts, is vital for consideration since more often than not it varies tremendously from the contexts in which the authors wrote the text that is under study.
Importantly to note is that, culture presents various experiences, which students are likely to employ while attempting to attach meanings to the texts they read, in an attempt to comprehend the texts. To this end, I believe that testing students should focus on examining the students’ experiences and interpretation of literary works based on these experiences. In these tests, a consideration of the diverse cultural inclinations of different students, as well as how they are able to articulate their experiences with the contents of various texts that they read is vital.
Educators deserve to engineer learning contexts that provide amicable opportunities for students to engage with their peers in the proactive learning process. Through collaborations, learners are able to build one another’s immense knowledge and capacities to understand. Consequently, one would expect a collaborative enhancement of their cognitive abilities (Smith, 1986, p.45).
Educators deserve to deploy instructional practices that would enhance teaching of phonics in a way that ensures personal connection of learners with the real world. While instructing learners, teachers need appreciate the varying abilities, experiences, attitudes among other traits that are differing for different students. What this means is that students deserve an ample opportunity to make choices of reading materials they want in an attempt to encourage them to engage more in literacy tasks. Availing stimulating materials for reading may increase by a large extent the development of literacy skills amongst learners.
Bargley, W. (1911). Classroom Management. New York: Macmillan.
Goodman, Y. (1989). Roots of the whole language movement. The Elementary School Journal, 90(1), 113-127.
Shannon, P. (2000). You Shop. Raising Questions about Reading Commodities. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Shannon, P. (1990). The Struggle to Continue: Progressive Reading Instruction in the United States. New York: Heinemann.
Smith, F. (1986). No way to teach. New York: New York Times.
Smith, F. (2001). Just a matter of time. The Phi Delta Kappan, 82(8), 572-576.