Put me off for life.
The Tories recently announced some plan to have children reading by the age of six or learning to read at the age of six. I think I may have mentioned it. Anyway, there’s another article in The Guardian, this time the pronouncements of some expert on an appropriate age at which children should learn to read (Under-sevens ‘too young to learn to read’). Shouldn’t be hard for you to guess that this sounds like arrant nonsense to me.
Teaching children at five to read and write can dent their interest in books later on, according to Lilian Katz, a professor of education at Illinois University, who will today address an international conference on nursery schooling at Oxford University.
“It can be seriously damaging for children who see themselves as inept at reading too early,” she told the Guardian. Boys were particularly vulnerable when rushed into reading too soon, she said.
“That has a more negative impact for boys. For most boys they are growing up in cultures where they are expected to be assertive and active. In instruction they are passive and receptive and reactive, and in the long term that accounts for the negative effects. In most cultures girls tend to put up with instruction earlier and better.”
As I noted, I learnt to read before I got to school. Did it damage me? Not at all. [You keep telling yourself that. –ed.] Kind of turned me into a (discerning) bibliophile. It also meant that when I was at school, any tests I did to assess my reading level placed me way ahead of the curve. I don’t know quite how old I was, but I was apparently reading at the alleged level of a 16-year-old long before I was that age.
[10.09.14. When I was at primary school, there was a girl called Jane who was barely literate. If the teacher got us reading out loud, I dreaded it when it got to her because the activity would grind painfully to a halt while we waited for her to say, “the”. I don’t know what happened to her, but she’s probably a best-selling author.]