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  • Writer's pictureThe Dyslexia Initiative

Lucy’s Misguided Desire For An Apology

By Ashley Roberts

Yesterday this podcast started to go viral within our community:

I listened to it and honestly nothing surprised me. I’ve heard all of this before. I felt it was a good introduction to the “Reading Wars” for people who might not be immersed in it.

However, like everyone else, the idea that Lucy thinks the Structured Literacy camp owes any kind of apology, even though she has said this before, was laughable at best.

If you’re curious to what I’m referring the transcript can be read here:

(If the link doesn’t work click the Transcript button after accessing the first hyperlink.)

Specifically this section:

Michael Barbaro

How does Lucy Calkins — and I’m sure that came up in your conversation with her — think about the concept of accountability here? Because, according to the science and research, she and those she worked with have led lots and lots of kids astray. Does she feel guilty for basically leading so many people to embrace a form of the teaching of reading that we now think has been somewhat discredited?

Dana Goldstein

I pushed her on this. I asked her about it.

Dana Goldstein

Some critics, they want something more like an apology. Some teachers have said to me, there needs to be almost a national reckoning or a grieving process for reading issues in the country.

Lucy Calkins

I think that people who have supported phonics first would be wise to learn from others and that, sure, they could apologize for not trusting teachers, not giving kids important, engaging projects to work on, not creating classrooms that are vital. And I think that we, all of us, do the best we can.

Dana Goldstein

She turned the question around. And she said, actually, I think those who pushed phonics so heavily owe an apology. They owe an —

Michael Barbaro


Dana Goldstein

She said, I think they owe an apology for overlooking the importance of joy, overlooking the importance of writing.

Lucy Calkins

Are people asking whether they’re going to apologize for overlooking writing, for not inviting kids to bring their own important knowledge and stories to the classroom? Are they going to apologize for not building on kids’ strengths? I think all of us are imperfect. And we do the very, very best we can. And hopefully we’re willing to say, I need to keep listening to others.

Dana Goldstein

In other words, she sort of drew upon what she continues to see as the strength of her approach as opposed to, I think, truly acknowledging that something was really, really wrong.

So, Lucy wants an apology because she believes the Structured Literacy camp is overlooking writing? That there’s no joy? That it doesn’t capitalize on kids strengths? That’s the epitome of her and her brethren’s hubris. To continue to insist that their philosophy is the only one acknowledging the child and fostering love is misguided at best and destructive at its worst. It is a determination to misframe Structured Literacy as drill and kill. My favorite part is the writing portion of the statement.

By the way, this is an amazing article on how the idea of loving reading became a weapon:

I am old enough that I was educated within American Public Schools Pre-Balanced Literacy. Creative writing existed throughout my educational career. Fun fact, my undergraduate degree is in English with a specialization in Creative Writing. I was an active part of the Writers Workshop that is creative writing at the university level whether undergraduate or graduate. I attended one of the top 3 creative writing programs in the country.

Lucy's concept of writing is wholly and completely flawed. It is void of both grammar and syntax which are the building blocks of how one writes. One cannot adequately or properly express themselves if they cannot write. Simply placing words on paper is not writing. The act of writing is it’s own language which must be explicitly, sequentially, and systematically taught. That method of teaching does not suck the love out of writing, quite the contrary. It imbues the individual with the know how to create beauty, to speak from the perspective of self, to share knowledge, and to paint with words. Written expression is beautiful, powerful, and awe inspiring, but she continues to completely ignore the construct of writing that must be taught to all children thereby depriving them of the artistry that is written expression.

Her insistence that an apology is owed is her wounded ego lashing out, trying to hold onto some level of integrity and respectability. Her pride is wounded so we should apologize versus the tens of millions of children that did not learn to read or write under her curriculum.

No, our collective community will not be apologizing. We have yet to receive an apology for the harm done not just to our dyslexic children, but all children by the purveyors of the flawed pedagogy that is Balanced Literacy.. A recokning is happening across, not just American education, but education in all countries where Balanced Literacy ideologies permeated the curriculums, as more and more voices are collectively rising demanding change in how we educate our children. This recokning is beautiful to witness too. There's a lot of ground yet to cover, but it's underway.

Keep it going!!!


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