The Literacy Wars
Why teaching children to read and write is a battleground in Australia
by Ilana Snyder
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Do we have a literacy crisis?
Fierce debates in the media over how to teach children to read and write have reached new heights in recent years. The intensity of the debates is not surprising as literacy education matters to everyone, but there is collateral damage. Public confidence in literacy teachers has been undermined and many believe we have a literacy crisis in our schools.
The Literacy Wars explains the reasons for the often bitter disagreements between the critics who want to reclaim old ways of teaching literacy and the educators who emphasise the possibilities for creative change. It is a story of strong beliefs and deep divisions. It is also a story of the politicisation of the debates, which has repercussions for policy decisions and funding.
Drawing comparisons with the UK and the United States, The Literacy Wars shows how the debates in Australia resonate with similar battles in other parts of the world. The challenge facing literacy teachers everywhere is to find a balance between preserving the legacy of the past and preparing children for the literacy demands of the future.
The Literacy Wars is essential reading for everyone who cares about literacy education: parents, teachers, students, academics, politicians and policy makers.
'Ilana Snyder writes with customary clarity and verve, bringing much-needed insight to the field of literacy education.'
Professor Richard Andrews, Institute of Education, University of London
- Allen & Unwin, February 2008
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