Reading & Literacy

Is Reading Comprehension a Skill? The Debate Goes On

By Catherine Gewertz — January 04, 2010 1 min read

Happy New Year! As you ease into the post-holiday workweek, you might want to check out an interesting conversation about reading that’s going on over at the Core Knowledge blog.

It started with a column by University of Virginia professor Daniel T. Willingham. He argued that reading comprehension isn’t a skill, and isn’t necessarily improved by simply reading more.

Core Knowledge’s Robert Pondiscio noted Willingham’s column and predicted that the folks over at the National Council of Teachers of English would jump to disagree with him. Pondiscio asked NCTE President Carol Jago to share her thoughts, and was surprised by her response.

Willingham made a similar argument about reading comprehension back in September, when the draft of the common standards came out. Sean Cavanagh wrote about that column for this blog, and I also wrote about it for our High School Connections blog.

As the common standards move toward full development—a draft of the K-12 standards is expected out this month—I’d guess that lots of folks will be paying pretty close attention to the assumptions about reading skills that underlie those standards.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.