Teaching Reading Essay

1658 words - 7 pages

“Whole language isn’t something one does; whole language is something one believes in and something that guides one’s research, one’s learning, and one’s teaching” (I Do Whole Language on Fridays 18).
Whole language or the socio-psycholinguistic approach to teaching reading is not a program for teaching, but instead a set of beliefs. “Whole language is a philosophical stance” (I Do Whole Language on Fridays 18). This theory is a student centered approach from the perspective that learning occurs best when information is presented as a whole rather than divided into smaller components which lead to making meaning. “English teaching is not a fixed system, nor an exact science” (Foster 12). Students are meant to create and construct their own knowledge based on their encounters and experiences.
There are competing ideologies for how a classroom should be run. These are the transmission model of behaviorist instruction, and transactional instruction, which is what whole language represents. The transmission model is what many of us are used to seeing in traditional classrooms where the teacher is essentially reading a script written by a textbook company or someone else outside the classroom. On the other side of the spectrum is whole language. This can be described as a “transactional model of teaching and learning, one in which learners actively engage with their teachers, their classmates, and their environment in order to create their curriculum” (I Do Whole Language on Fridays 18).
This philosophy provides a possible bright future and major change in our educational system that we have become so familiar with. One of the best qualities of whole language is that “it recognizes and embraces difference in student’s abilities and intelligences” (Courts 102). So many schools that follow instead a transmission method of teaching are promoting one correct answer and single meaning, which is not beneficial to every student in the classroom. A good majority of us have had this experience with the mindset, “I was reading to uncover the right answer or to fulfill a requirement” (More Than Great Books 56). Everyone learns in a different way, and has different strengths and weaknesses. Whole language allows an opportunity for everyone to showcase their strengths.
One principle of whole language that I find to be important is the advised role of the teacher. In traditional styles classrooms, which we all probably grew up with, the teacher is the dispenser of all knowledge. They stand in the front of the class and either lecture, or teach from a school provided textbook as their entire lesson. With a transactional model the teacher now takes the place of a facilitator by removing themselves from the authoritative throne, and interacting with the students on their own level (I Do Whole Language on Fridays 20).These whole language teachers teach reading and writing by actually reading and writing alongside their students. This is effective because it...

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