To the Editor:
ACT Inc.’s “Reading Between the Lines” report (“Graduates Can’t Master College Text,” March 1, 2006) signals again how inattentive American education has been to the development of the adolescent reader.
So often we focus on the social, emotional, and biological dimensions of the adolescent, but not the learning adolescent. With a history of teaching and curriculum development, I can say that science teaching and curriculum are major offenders.
Science teachers do not want to be—and should not have to be—reading teachers. But science teachers should help students learn how to manage science literature as much as they help them learn how to manage lab equipment. Reading should be treated as a science skill. This will only happen if the curriculum calls on students to do science. Lecture-only and reading-only science courses kill an adolescent’s development in both the science and the reading.
Well-designed science curriculum and instruction for grades 9-12 can raise the standard for adolescent reading development. They can demonstrate to students that scientific reading is authentic, adult, scientific work, and that reading has value beyond scoring well on a 10th grade test.
Joseph M. Flynn
Senior Project Director
Center for Science Education
Education Development Center Inc.
A version of this article appeared in the March 15, 2006 edition of Education Week as Must Science Teachers Be Reading Teachers?