Not Teaching Reading!

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I was appalled by your comments that speech-language pathologists should not teach reading! Reading is a part of language! Why not teach reading?

In my opinion, reading teachers teach reading, and speech-language pathologists teach speech and language.  This is my opinion and I am sticking to it.  You may have a different opinion if you would like.  Your opinion will not appall me, and I would suggest that mine not appall you.  Sounds like a big waste of energy to me.

You may be interested in the following very interesting description of the relationship between listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  It was written by Wendell Johnson who received ASHA’s Honors of the Association in 1946, and who was ASHA president in 1950.  I copied this down years ago without noting the reference, and I still am hunting for it…

“To me it is especially curious that in the classroom there is given more time teaching writing than reading, more time teaching reading than speaking, and the least time, if any at all, teaching listening.  Meanwhile, not only outside of school but right in the classroom, we do more listening than speaking, more speaking than reading, and more reading than writing. A perfect negative correlation between education and life.”

7 thoughts on “Not Teaching Reading!”

  1. I so agree with you Pam. If I wanted to become a reading teacher I would have chosen that path. Should a reading teacher do our job? I think not. I am way to busy during the course of my day remediating speech, language, fluency and voice issues to tackle another issue, reading. Who else in that school is trained to perform the job of a Speech-Language Pathologist? Only we are. We need to stop diluting our profession and get back to what most of us were trained to do!!!

  2. I am in total agreement with you! There is no one else in the school that does what we do. why should we take on yet another job?? I will support the teacher in any way I can. I will point out things to reinforce them and use the lingo the teacher is using but I am not and will never be a reading teacher!

  3. I am a student in Speech Pathology and interested if anyone knows of any published journal articles defending the point that SLPs should not be spending time teaching reading.
    I’m finding articles that defend the idea, but none challenging it.
    Thanks very much!

  4. I completely agree. School therapists’ caseloads are too large but we are less and less allowed to treat the children who require specialized speech therapy services. As I have contracted in the school system for the past year and I half, I am disappointed in the direction of our field. We are providing duplication of services that the special education resource teachers are providing (reading, writing startegies) and discouraged from serving “articulation only” students. I feel like we have become tutors to help the school systems meet the standardized testing criteria.

  5. Insofar as it is a caseload issue, than I see the argument. However, the argument “should not” seems like a scope of practice statement. In that vein, I’d argue that SLPs are qualified and, in the case that anyone feels that they are not, it would likely only take an additional class to catch them up to speed given their foundation. Thus, I don’t feel that “should not” is the appropriate phrasing. Personally, I’d substitute “should not have to”. However, even then, I’d argue that reading and language acquisition are so intertwined that it is difficult to make that argument beyond what an SLP might negotiate in a contract. I was well educated in both my undergraduate (more so) and graduate programs to teach basic literacy skills.

  6. Whether or not we are qualified depends mostly on our training. Most programs do offer either courses or even a dedicated clinic for phonological awareness. So I would say, begrudgingly, yes the SLP is qualified to provide literacy intervention. However, in the school setting there are other experts in reading instruction. Students in special education that requiring literacy intervention are almost always receiving instruction from the resource/education/reading specialist. Those professionals also have the credential recognizing that they can modify curriculum to meet the students needs. As was mentioned above, the SLP providing the literacy intervention is a duplication of services and unnecessarily restrictive. It makes not sense to pull the kid (or adult) out of the classroom, miss the course content, miss the services being provided by the educational specialist, to be seen for by the SLP for reading intervention.

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