Reading dis/ability: Interrogating paradigms in a prism of power

Linda J. Graham, Susan Grieshaber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    The dichotomisation of literacy instruction into phonics instruction versus a whole language approach fails to realise a fundamental tenet of providing equitable educational opportunities to diverse groups of children. Diversity becomes a problem to solve through 'inoculation programmes' or 'special' education expertise. Moreover, children's individual strengths can fail to be realised because they do not fit well with the programme of the day. Instead of being appreciated for the value that they may bring in higher order conceptual and intellectual tasks, these individual strengths may be neglected at great cost to the individual child because they offer cheap reward in the shape of aggregate test scores. This paper is a philosophical piece, which in refusing to prescribe what one should do on Monday morning joins other strident voices in disability studies in education to question what it is that we are doing today. Whilst not scientific, this is important work - it emphasises the a priori importance of philosophical, moral and ethical questions - reminding science that children are dynamic social beings who cannot be manipulated like genes to 'express' themselves in ways more conducive to quick and cheap educational programmes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)557-570
    Number of pages14
    JournalDisability and Society
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


    • Literacy wars
    • Pathologisation of difference
    • Phonics
    • Reading disability
    • Whole language


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