Appalling state of literacy in Austraila

The Australian recently carried a series of articles by Jennifer Buckingham, a leading researcher into literacy at Macquarie University and its own educational correspondent Justine Ferrari on the appalling state of literacy in Australia.

Jennifer's article , “Bad teaching kills reading skills” (30/07/2013) prompted considerable correspondence agreeing that the teaching of reading in Australia was at crisis point.  

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‘Why Jayden Can’t Read’ – The Crisis In Education And Literacy In Australia

On 14 November Antonia Canaris and Peter Hill directors of Neurosensory attended a seminar held by the Centre for Independent Studies called ‘Why Jayden can’t read’.  The title is a reference to a book published in the United States that highlighted the problems with the whole word approach to literacy. This is not a sterile debate when you consider the huge percentage of 15-year-olds (close to 40% according to the ABS ) in Australia who leave school unable to read or write effectively or sufficient to gain employment. How this has come to pass was the subject of the seminar. 

 Jennifer Buckingham a leading literacy researcher at Macquarie University, Tom Alegournarias, President of NSW Board of Studies and Justine Ferrari, national educational correspondent with the Australian presented papers on the current state of literacy in Australia. Jennifer Buckingham and Justine Ferrari highlighted the appalling state of literacy in Australia and there was considerable discussion as to its cause. Tom Alegournarias provided a response as president of the New South Wales Board of Studies and members of the audience engaged in debate about the history of the crisis, why it has been allowed to develop, and it seems educational experts powerless to intervene. 

The tragedy is that many years later , after the initial debate that prompted the writing of why ‘Jayden can’t read’ we are still engaging in an ideological debate between those who support the whole word style of learning and those who consider a phoneme-based approach the preferred evidence-based option. 

There was certainly no answers but certainly a lot of goodwill to provide a united front to tackle what is really a scourge on our society.

Learning Differences Convention 9 November 2013 – Darling Harbour Sydney

Antonia, director of Neurosensory presented a case study at the Learning Differences Convention at Darling Harbour in early November 2013 on the devastating psychological, educational and emotional consequences of untreated dyslexia on a young man’s education and self-esteem. 

Using ‘’Chris’’ as an example Antonia outlined the path this young man took as he worked his way up the educational ladder from initially receiving sometimes less 4% in his school assignments to obtaining credits or better at TAFE. Antonia summed it up saying, ‘Chris had been through the mill, misdiagnosed, over diagnosed, and ignored. Once a formal diagnosis was made Chris was suffering severe dyslexia an individualised treatment program could be devised and Chris blossomed.  Chris will never be cured of dyslexia because there is no cure, but with the right strategies he will survive and hopefully flourish. Indeed, he is already designing and building exceptional cabinet work at TAFE. Chris’ story should warm all our hearts and give hope to many’.