Guest post: We might as well be rubbing ice on their little heads

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This guest post is from Kathy Boroughs, a speech language pathologist who works with Kingsgate Speech, Language and Reading in Washington State. Her post is prompted by the recent letter in the Washington Post from several dozen literacy experts supporting NCTQ's standard for effective early reading instruction.

Years back, when I was doing speech rehab work with adults, I was dismayed by one of the other speech language practitioner's approaches to a particular patient. She met with this patient daily and proceeded to rub ice on her lips and weak side of her face, a "treatment" I'd never encountered elsewhere. I asked the clinician for her reasoning and of course she claimed the patient was making great progress in her speech and motor movement. Knowing baloney when I see it and hear it, I pressed the issue thinking perhaps she lacked experience, knowledge or whatever. Our supervisor took the position that we all needed to respect each other's approaches.

I found this maddening as this particular patient had the ill luck of falling in the hands of the wrong "specialist" and when the money allotted for her treatment expired, that was the end of her chance for speech therapy.

The idea that we all respect each other's instructional differences when it comes to reading reminded me of this. Kids can either get really lucky and find themselves in the hands of teachers who apply systematic phonics and the other components of effective reading instruction or they can land in the hands of a teacher from the other camp where guessing prevails. The stakes are just too high.

We might as well be rubbing ice on their little heads. I wish I had taken a stronger stand then and I'm pretty sure we have a moral obligation to all of the kids to take one now.