History of reading

History of Literacy

  • Jan 1, 1500

    Mental Discipline Theory

    -400 B.C.E.: Mental Discipline Theory was introduced by philosophers Plato and Aristotle. The theory stressed that instructional practices should be skill and drill. Rote memorization and repeated reading are focuses of this theory (Tracey & Morrow, 2012). According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Many educators believe that students' minds are like muscles that need to be exercised and strengthened in order to develop and grow" (p. 20).
  • Period: Jan 1, 1500 to


    -20,000 B.C.E.: Logographic communication was found by using cave writing (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
    -2,000 B.C.E.: The phoenician alphabet came about (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
    1607-The Horn Book was developed. It included the alphabet, verses, rhymes, and stories (Vogt & Shearer, 2011)
    1607- 1840- “Religious and patriotic views dominated instruction in the country” (Vogt & Shearer, 2011, p. 7).
  • Associationism

    -350 B.C.E.: According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "This is a theory of psychology and education that is devoted to the study of how learning occurs (p. 20). Aristotle believed that there were three connections that increased students learning and understanding. Those three connections are contiguity, similarity, and finally contract. Aristotle also found that it is crucial to build and activate student background knowledge and build comprehension strategies (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Unfoldment Theory

    -1700: Accoring to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Rousseau believed that children's learning would evolve naturally as a result of their innate curiosity" (p. 24). Children advocate for themselves to learn the way that works best for them. Pestalozzi also was an important part of this theory, he believed that students still needed instruction from adults to learn to their fullest potention (Tracey & Morrow, 2012). Froebel also had strong beliefs in this theory as well.
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    -According to Sadoski (2004), "Spelling books competed with primers and eventually replaced them in the 1700's" (p. 20).
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    According to Sadoski (2004), "The influential educational reformer Horace Mann visited European schools in 1843 and returned to launch a scathing attack on the alphabet method" (p. 22).
    -"During this time, a new emphasis on literature combined with the principles of the sentence method to produce the story method in teaching reading" (Sadoski, 2004, p. 27).
  • Structuralism

    -1870: Wundt, Cattell, Javal, Quantz, and Dearborn all played an important role in this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Print perception is a critical component of this reading process" (p. 29). "Classroom instructional practices that support students; increased accuracy regarding print perception is also consistent with this theory" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 35).
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    1930-1960- Leveled readers were used to teach children to read (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
    1930-1980- Families read books about white middle-class families that lacked diversity (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
    1935-1965- The look-say approach gained momentum and was used by several educators at this time (Pearson, 2002).
    -According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Behaviorism was the predominant psychological and educational perspective in the United States from 1910 to the end of the 1950's" (p. 55).
  • Classical Conditioning

    -1920: Classical Conditioning was an important part of Behaviorism. Pavlov and Watson both played an important role in this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow, (2012), "This theory was created as a result of research studying a dog's digestion in the 1920's (p. 41). "This theory articulates the concept of conditioning in which learning is observed through the repeated pairings of unconditioned and conditioned stimuli" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 55).
  • Connectionism

    -1920: According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "This theory is also considered a behavioral theory because, Thorndike equated learning with observable changes in behavior" (p. 45). Thorndikes Laws of Effect, Readiness, Identical Elements, and Exercise all come into play when discussing this theory (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Inquiry Learning

    -1930: Inquiry Learning is part of Constructivism and was developed by Dewey. "Inquiry learning was designed, to produce involved citizens capable of successfully participating in and contributing to a democratic society" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p.59). "Dewey promoted colaboration, cooperation, and use of a democratic style in education. The role of the environment in education, problem-based learning, and social collaboration are all important to this theory" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 60).
  • Schema Theory

    -1930: This is part of the constructivist theory created by Bartlett. "This theory strives to explain how knowledge is created and used by learners" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 62). Based on this theory it is believed that without an existing schemata it is hard to take in and learn new information (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Transactional/Reader Response Theory

    -1930: This theory is another part of the Constructivism theory and was developed by Rosenblatt. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Rosenblatt believed that every reading experience is unique to each individual" (p. 65). "Rosenblatt's work has also helped educators appreciate the importance of designing learning activities that elicit a variety of individual efferent and aesthetic responses to reading" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 78).
  • Theory of Cognitive Development

    -1930: Piaget played a very important role in the development o this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Piaget's writings are foundational for the ways in which children cognitively develop" (p. 93). "Piaget identified four stages of qualitatively different types of thinking through which children progress in their journey toward adult thinking. Those four stages are, sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 92).
  • Maturation Theory

    -1930: When discussing this theory, both Morphett and Washburn played and improtant role. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "This theory was the dominane theory in reading education from the 1930s until the 1950s, affecting the literacy instruction of millions of American children. As a result of this theory, formal reading instruction was withheld from children both at home and at school until they reached the mental age of 6.5" (p. 94).
  • Operant Conditioning Theory

    -1950: This theory was part of Behaviorism and was developed by Skinner. Operant Conditioning Theory is also known as "programmed learning." According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "In programmed learning, instruction is carefully broken down into small, successive steps that are carefully designed to maximize the likelihood of students' success, andto minimize the likelihood of students' frustration and failure" (p. 46).
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    According to Vogt and Shearer (2011), "Phonics was taught in many schools, and debate continued about the best approach, synthetic or analytic" (p. 10).
  • Information Processing Model

    -1960: Atkinson and Shiffrin played an important role in this theory and model. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "This theory represents one type of cognitive-processing perspective" (p. 151). "This model suggests that information moves through different stages, or storage systems, as it is processed, reflected upon, learned, saved, and retrieved" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 152).
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    Skills lessons in teachers' manuals, and student workbooks, allowed students to practice the skills they were learning (Pearson, 2002).
    -"Lyndon Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act brough new resources for compensatory education to schools through a program called Title 1. Commissioner of Education, James Allen also established the national Right to Read program as a way of guaranteeing that right to each child in the United States" (Pearson, 2002, p. 9).
  • Psycholinguistic and Whole Language Theory

    -1970: This theory is part of Constructivism and Smith and Goodman played an important role. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "A central component of the Psycholinguistic Theory of reading is that readers rely on language cueing systems to help them rapidly read text" (p. 68). Whole Language Theory extends Psycholinguistic Theory and it is based on how children learn from different teaching strategies.
  • Metacognitive Theory

    -1970: This theory is also Constructivist in nature and Flavell and Brown play an important role in this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "Metacognition is the process of thinking about one's own thinking" (p. 71). "Metacognitive instruction reflects a constructivist perspective because of its depiction of the readers' active, internal cognitive engagement as central to the reading process" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 74).
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    -“The primary instructional materials were basal reading programs that included leveled readers, phonics activities, and several comprehension skill practices, which were usually found in workbooks” (Vogt & Shearer, 2011, p. 13).
    According to Pearson (2002), "Dick and Jane were retired and replaced by a wider array of stories and characters. Criterion-referenced tests and curriculum-embedded assessments were also an important part of this time period" (p. 10).
  • Engagement Theory

    -1970: Guthrie and Wigfield played and important role in the development of this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "This theory contains the central elements of Metacognitive Theory, but also emphasizes motivational, conceptual, and social aspects of learning" (p. 75).
  • Theory of Literacy Development

    -1970: "In Holdaway's theory, learning to read is viewed as a natural developmental occurance. In this theory, parents are the models for children, and children strive to emulate what their parents do" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 95).
  • Sociolinguistic Theory

    -1970: Bernstien played an important role in the development of this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012) "Sociolinguistics is a theory from the social learning perspectives that particularly emphasizes the role of individuals' language in reading acquisition and reading ability" (p. 121).
  • Socio-Cultural Theory

    -1970: Bronfenbrenner was a big part of the Socio-Cultural Theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "This theory emphasizes the roles of social, cultural, and historical factors in the human experience. The Socio-Cultural Theory focuses more on the broader concept of culture, which includes, but is not limited to, language" (p. 122).
  • Social Constructivism

    -1970: Vygotsky was famous among the social learning theorists. "He created this theory on the belief that children learn as a result of their social interactions with others" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 127). According to Tracey and Morrow (2012) "An extremely influential concept within this theory is the zone of proximal development" (p. 128). Scaffolding is also another important concept to consider when discussing this theory.
  • Social Learning Theory

    -1970: Bandura development this theory within the social learning perspective (Tracey & Morrow, 2012). According to Tracey and Morrow, (2012) "Bandura believed that people learn from observing others. They observe others successes, failures, efforts, and styles" (p. 130). "Modeling and obercational learning have been particularly prominent in this field" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 132).
  • Critical Literacy Theory

    -1970: Freire played a large role in this theory. "Work that uses a political lens to examine a literacy education falls under the category of Critical Literacy. This theory also challenges the traditional belief that education is a politically neutral process designed to promote the individual development of all children" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 132).
  • Gough's Model

    -1972: "Gough proposed a model based on the bottom up information processing model. This would mean that students process information as proceeding from lower order to higher order stages" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 155). This theory also fits in well with the information-processing theories because of it's stage-by-stage processing and storage of text (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Automatic Information-Processing Model

    -1970: LaBerge and Samuels played an important role in this model. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "In this model, reading begins with visual processing of text. LaBerge and Samuels believe that as students practice with different visuals their letter perception will become automatic and visual coding processes decreases" (p. 157).
  • Interactive Model

    -1970: "Rumelhart's model is considered interactive rather than bottom-up because it depicts multiple processors converging on visual input simultaneously, rather than in a linear, sequential manner" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 161). According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), "The central idea of an interactive model is that the reader simultaneously uses information that is provided from multiple sources during the reading process" (p. 162).
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    -Computers started to be introduced in schools where many teachers lacked the necessary computers skills and knowledge to assist students (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
    -Whole language came about which decreased the emphasis on teaching discrete skills (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
  • Stage Models of Reading

    -1980: Ehri, Chall, Gough, and Frith all played an important role in this model. "These theorists believe that the strategies associated with the earlier stages of development remain available to readers as more refined reading skills associated with later stages of development are attained" (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 97). In general, this model describes the stages in which children grow and develop in their word identification abilities (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Emergent Literacy

    -1980: Clay played an important role in this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012) “This theory is built on a set of beliefs regarding the ways in which children’s early literacy development occurs” (p. 99). This theory also supports the belief that children’s first literacy skills develop at birth and that their home environment and support impacts their skills and literacy development (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Family Literacy Theory

    -1980: In 1983, Taylor played an important role in the development of this theory. This theory has several of the same beliefs as the Emergent Literacy Theory, but it builds on the fact that the parent’s role and their involvement in their child’s literacy development is crucial. In regards to this theory, the parents and teachers relationships and communication should be very strong (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Interactive-Compensatory Model

    -1980: This model is very similar to the Interactive model. “Stanovich extended the Interactive model by believing that if one processor is not working well, or has insufficient data, the other processors compensate for it” (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 163).
  • Phonological-Core Variable Difference Model

    -1980: Stanovich again, played an important role in the development of this Model. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012), “This model is classified as a cognitive-processing model because the central feature of this model is a deficit in the phonological processor” (p.165). This model digs deep into the controversy over dyslexia and IQ discrepancy (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
  • Third Space Theory

    -1990: Lefebvre’s work was an important piece of this theory. According to Tracey and Morrow (2012) “The concept of space in this theory can be viewed not only as a physical concept but also as a metal construct. Students’ learning is enhanced when they are able to construct internal third spaces and this is most easily done when classroom lessons are built upon, or related to, the knowledge from their first and second spaces” (p. 135).
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    -In the late 1900’s Culhum found that “Six Trait Writing became widespread to help make the writer’s thinking process more visible” (as cited in Vogt & Shearer, 2011, p. 15).
    -According to Pearson (2002), "By 1995, whole language was no longer a series of assaults on skills and basals that characterized it through the mid-1980's" (p. 22).
  • Parallel Distributed Processing Model/Connectionism

    -1990: The idea of this model is that all cognitive information is stored as a series of connections, and those connections get stronger when they are repeated (Tracey & Morrow, 2012). Seidenberg and McClelland were two individuals who were involved in this theory. “Successful reading is dependent on a reader’s abilities in the areas of letter recognition, phonemic processing, vocabulary knowledge, and ability to construct meaningful messages during reading” (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 170).
  • Dual-Route Cascaded Model

    -1990: This model believes that computer architecture has two routes for processing text, one is for the words that are already known, and the other is for unknown words (Tracey & Morrow, 2012). Colheart and Rastle played an important role in this theory.
  • Double-Deficit Hypothesis

    -1990: This was developed by Wolf and Bowers to try and determine the cause of reading disabilities (Tracey & Morrow, 2012). “ Double-Deficit Hypothesis views naming speed as a distinct and separate entity uniquely contributing to reading failure” (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 174).
  • Neuroscientific Contributions

    -2000: “Neuroscience is concerned with the study of neurons and cells and is founded in biology” (Tracey & Morrow, 2012, p. 175). Goswami played an important role in this theory and believes that Neuroscience will play an important role in our classrooms in the future (Tracey & Morrow, 2012).
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    2002-2008- Maeroff noted “A large growth of pre-kindergarten programs” (as cited in Vogt & Shearer, 2011, p. 18).
    2004- According to Vogt and Shearer (2011), “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act gave rise to a general education initiative called Response to Intervention” (p. 17).
    2005 “A new grant program called Striving Readers, was intended to raise the reading achievement levels of middle and high school students in Title 1 eligible schools" (Vogt & Shearer, 2011, p. 17).
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    -Educators became more aware of evidence based or researched based programs because of the International Reading Association’s (IRA) definitions (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
    2009- President Obama’s “five pillars of education reform” were developed (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
    2009- Race to the Top was developed to increase student’s achievement scores and teachers evaluations were tied to it as well (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).