Sunday, November 11, 2007

About Literacy: Children of the Code Website, links

I came across this website today and thought I'd share it- if you are familiar with Children of the Code project, please leave a comment, since I haven't yet explored the entire site.

Childrenof is an on-line multi-media resource that is part of a public/social education project to that aims to spread information and education about "The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read it"

The project has four main components:
  1. A three hour Public Television, DVD and Web documentary series;
  2. A ten-hour college, university, and professional development DVD series;
  3. A series of teacher and parent presentations and seminars;
  4. A cross-indexed website/database containing audio, video and transcripts with the world's leading experts in fields related to reading.
The website includes over 100 interviews of people from a wide range of disciplines who are committed to promotion of health, education, and well-being of children, youth, and in turn, communities and society.

Here is the project's abstract:

"Abstract: Our children's cognitive and emotional development, self-esteem, academic, and later social and economic success, all depend on how well they learn - on the health of their learning. Whether we are involved in parenting, teaching, cognitive science, psychology, pedagogy, curriculum design, instructional design, direct instruction, constructivism, assessment, multiple intelligences, learning styles, learning differences, learning disabilities, learning theory, learning communities, organizational learning, preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, home school, unschooling, college, university... we all share the responsibility of stewarding the health of our children's learning."

I'd recommend starting with the on-line video tour of the project:

The following is a quote from an interview with David Boulton, the director of the Children of the Code project:

"The mission of the Children of the Code project is to catalyze and resource a transformation in how our society thinks about the "code" of our written language and the "challenges involved in learning to read it.". I think we're living in the "Stone Age of Literacy." Our lack of understanding of what is involved and what is at stake in acquiring literacy is wreaking havoc on the lives of our population, including children"

"..the first think I hope i that it (the project) changes the mental lens through which parents and teachers see struggling learners. I want them to see someone who is struggling as somebody who is struggling with an artificially confusing technology (written language) and somebody who is in significant emotional and cognitive danger.

"What I hope is that people realize that if children and adults struggle too long with the process of acquiring literacy, it can seriously affect how they develop and grow and learn. Struggling to read causes many, many people to grow up feeling ashamed of their mind.."

Here is a list of direct links to many of the interviews you'll find on the site:

Grover (Russ) Whitehurst
Director, Institute of Education Science, U.S. Department of Education
Mel Levine
Author: A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness & Ready or Not Here Life Comes
Jack Shonkoff

Chair, The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

James J. Heckman
Nobel Prize Winner in Economic Sciences, Lead Author: The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children
Sally Shaywitz
Neuroscientist, Department of Pediatrics, Yale University, Author: Overcoming Dyslexia
Maryanne Wolf
Director, Center for Reading & Language Research; Professor of Child Development, Tufts University

Nancy Hennessy
President, 2003-2005, International Dyslexia Association
Tim Shanahan
Chair, National Literacy Panel, Member of National Reading Panel (NRP)
Louisa Moats
Reading Scientist, Sopris West - Author: Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling
Reid Lyon
Ex-Branch Chief, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Marilyn Jager Adams
Senior Scientist, Soliloquy Learning, Author: Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print
Edward Kame'enui
Commissioner for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences Director
Keith Stanovich
Chair, Applied Cognitive Science, U. Toronto, Author: Reading Matters: How Reading Engagement Influences Cognition
Todd Risley
Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Alaska, Co-author: Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children
James Wendorf
Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities
Paula Tallal
Board of Governor's Professor of Neuroscience Rutgers University,, Co-Founder, Scientific Learning Corporation
Keith Rayner
Distinguished Professor, University of Massachusetts, Author: Eye Movements in Reading and Information Processing
Rick Lavoie
Learning Disabilities Specialist, Creator: How Difficult Can This Be?: The F.A.T. City Workshop & Last One Picked, First One Picked On: The Social Implications of Learning Disabilities
Richard Allington
Reading Researcher, President, International Reading Association
Richard Venezky
Professor of Educational Studies, Information Sciences & Linguistics, U. Delaware - Author: The Structure of English Orthography & The American Way of Spelling
Sharon Darling
President, National Center for Family Literacy
Kimberly Thompson
Director, Kids Risk Project, Department of Health Policy and Management - Harvard School of Public Health
Robert Sweet
Professional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives - Co-Founder, National Right to Read Foundation
Pat Lindamood & Nanci Bell
Founders of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes
Carol H. Rasco
President, Reading is Fundamental
Chris Doherty
Ex-Director Reading First, U.S. Department of Education
Sandra Feldman
Past-President, American Federation of Teachers
Robert Wedgeworth
President, ProLiteracy
Lesley M. Morrow
Past-President, International Reading Association
George Farkus
Professor of Sociology, Demography, & Education, Penn State
Susan H. Landry
Director, Center for Improving the Readiness of Children for Learning and Education; Chief, Division of Developmental Pediatrics, University of Texas at Houston
Sarah Greene
Executive Director, National Head Start Association
Peter E. Leone
Director, National Center on Education, Disability & Juvenile Justice
Slyvia O. Richardson
Past President, International Dyslexia Association
Jones Kyazze
Director, UNESCO
Martin Haberman
Distinguished Professor, Depart. of Curriculum & Instruction, UWM - Creator, National Teacher Corp
Donald Nathanson
Professor of Psychiatry & Human Emotion, Jefferson Medical Center, Author: Shame and Pride
Terrence Deacon
Cognitive Anthropologist, Berkeley, Author: The Symbolic Species, The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain
Siegfried Engelmann
Professor of Instructional Research, University of Oregon, Creator of Direct Instruction
Richard Olson
President (2001-2003), Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Professor, Department of Psychology , University of Colorado
Anne Cunningham
Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education, Berkeley
Steve Reder
Chair, Department of Applied Linguistics, Portland State University
Mike Merzenich
Chair of Otolaryngology, Integrative Neurosciences, UCSF, Member National Academy of Sciences
Patrick Groff
Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, NRRF Board Member & Senior Advisor
Stephen Krashen
Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Southern California
Johanna Drucker
Chair of Media Studies, University of Virginia, Author: The Alphabetic Labyrinth
Thomas Cable
Professor of English, Co-Author: A History of the English Language
John H. Fisher
Medieval Language Historian, Author: The Emergence of Standard English
Naomi Baron
Linguist, Director TESOL, American University, Author: From Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading
David Abram
Ecologist and Philosopher, Author: The Spell of the Sensuous
Ray Kurzweil
1999 National Medal of Technology, Inventor of OCR & Speech Recognition
Robert Logan
Professor of Physics, University of Toronto, Author: The Alphabet Effect
Malcolm Richardson
Chair, Department of English, Louisiana State University - Researching: The Textual Awakening of the English Middle Classes, 1380-1520
Bruce Thornton
Greek Historian, Fresno State University, Author: How the Greeks Invented Western Civilization
Frank Moore Cross, Jr.
Professor Emeritus of Hebrew & Other Oriental Languages, Harvard
Leonard Shlain
Historian, Author: The Alphabet vs. the Goddess
Doug Engelbart
2000 National Medal of Technology, Computer & Internet Pioneer, Inventor of the 'Mouse'
...and many others...
(see interview list)


Susan said...


I would like to ask about thei "children of the Code" sounds like acult to me....what teaching methods for literacy improvement are used?

Lynn Marentette said...

I don't know the person leading this effort. I thought it was interesting that he was able to arrange interviews with so many well-known people. It looks like it takes a very broad view of literacy.

Susan said...

Yes, there is an impressive number of interviewees.
I read the comments on one of them, a Leonard Shlain Physician; Best-Selling Author: The Alphabet vs. The Goddess: you can read what his posted comments upon his interview by the organization, to say the least, they left me very uneasy.
Still, I do not see a clear methodology on improving literacy skills, do you happen to know what they are?

Lynn Marentette said...

I noticed that the Children of the Code seminars were funded in part by Scientific Learning, the company behind Fast ForWard, a computer-supported reading and language program that some speech and language therapists use.

The FastForward website has links to nationally validated results, but I have not looked at the statistics behind the studies:

I think one of the aims of the project is to raise awareness about the difficulty many people have children have breaking the "code" of the alphabet. We assume that the students have something wrong with them, that they are reading disabled or dyslexic.

One of the points I think the project makes is that our alphabet is not phonetic. It artificial "code" that for some proves to be a barrier to further leearning. For example, by the fourth grade, it is expected that students have cracked this code. They are expected to read to learn.

Anonymous said...

I watched the 2008 Literacy Conference with David Boulton yesterday on my local Community Channel yesterday. For the past 25 years I have been promoting these same principles. It's good to have some backup science about the emotional aversion and the feeling of confusion and shame when it comes to learning or being ready to learn.
I am now a big fan of this site.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting, but what practical experience does this guy have? Has he ever worked with kids? Sounds like a computer geek who read a lot of other peoples original thoughts about language and is regurgitating them as his own thoughts... and selling the product. Anybody know if he has any practical experience in education or with kids at all?

Lynn Marentette said...

I'd like to get updated information regarding Children of the Code and David Boulton.