Is Jeffrey Bowers right that there is no evidence to support phonics teaching?

A very interesting analysis, Greg!

Filling the pail

I think it is uncontroversial to claim the general consensus among reading researchers is that phonics teaching is a critical component of early reading instruction. I have been reading a paper by Jeffrey Bowers and I think he would agree this is the consensus while disputing the evidence in support of it.

Bowers’ argument is detailed and, at times, arcane. I am not a reading researcher. Nevertheless, I will need to dig into some of the weeds to try to both understand and evaluate Bowers’ argument. This overlong blogpost will therefore not be for everyone.

Where are we coming from?

I am a researcher working in the field of cognitive load theory. I am also a teacher, a parent and a blogger with a lot of experience of ideological resistance to phonics teaching and some experience of how reading is taught in the wild. All of these incline me towards…

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