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Another important issue is that the statement "remedial means two grade levels behind" is a skills-oriented framework, and "developmental" takes a more holistic approach - including more of the "other stuff."  "Strategies" is an incredibly ambiguous term which a skills-focused person can interpret as "ways of getting the most out of your reading" (pre-reading strategies, etc) but others would consdier embracing psychological strategies (sitting in the front of the class so that you are less aware that everybody else is leaving and you're still worknig on that test... or the self-talk you engage in to keep that concept from crowding out the formula for the area of a triangle) and time-management strategies and figuring-out-the-social-dynamics-of-college strategies (that "office hours" does *not* mean "don't come by because I'm dong office work" and other 'inside scoops'!) 

I have occasionally encountered students who could stand straight-off remedial skills work... the dyslexic student who never had a teacher who knew how to teach a student with dyslexia to read, so he got by with extra work and accommodations, for example - but completely knew from academic culture and how to study and how to advocate for himself and... 

Anotehr fellow was from an Amish background and knew from studying and the like 'cause he'd learned a lot on his own... but math had stopped at eighth grade.  

Most folks are far more complicated. 


Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Center for Academic Success 
Parkland College
Champaign, IL  61821
217-353-2056
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Webmastress,
http://www.resourceroom.net 
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>>> Nic Voge <[log in to unmask]> 9/19/2008 10:22 AM >>>
With all due respect to my colleagues, I'm not sure that we are 
asking and answering the most productive, clarifying question. When 
we ask remedial vs. developmental we are already accepting these 
terms and their respective nomenclatures , uses and connotations. We 
can end up focussing on what I believe are relatively minor points 
about grade levels  but not what the terms really mean in the context 
of our work and how we think about education and learning. Let's try 
another question. How about, "How do we understand the variety of 
knowledge, skills, strategies and dispositions among our students, 
and how do we approach preparing students for their academic demands 
and their lives in general?" Other questions could do just as well, 
but I think what question we ask and how we ask it goes a long way 
toward how useful the discussion is.

Responding to a specific theme in the discussion I would like to put 
in question the notion of "remedy" or "remedial" and the concomittant 
belief that our students "should have" learned certain things. My 
critique will, I hope, suggest why a holistic developmental approach 
is more useful to practicioners than the medical-model-inspired 
remedial perspective.

If we talk about what our students should have learned, then we are 
assuming a great deal about their prior educational experiences. 
Should they have learned something they've never been taught, or 
taught poorly? For instance, we all know that the stated curriculum 
or objectives are not always thoroughly addressed, so we won't truly 
know if our students have been taught something before. Nor will we 
know how they were taught. "Should" students have acquired particular 
math knowledge and skills (and strategies) if their HS math teacher 
was trained to be gym teacher (or a largely untrained series of 
substitutes), or there were not enough books for the students to 
actually take them home to do homework (the situation of one my 
students in nearby Oakland, CA)? "Should" students have learned what 
they were taught if they came to school hungry and jittery and 
understandably distracted, as was the case in my sister's third grade 
class this year (and in many other classes) until she started feeding 
some of her students? "Should" students have learned American History 
in high school when getting to school and from class to class is 
perilous as it is for many students who are LGBTI or "suspected" of 
being LBGTI by peers and school administrations?

I could go on, as I'm sure you can imagine. But, the point is, we are 
assuming quite a bit when we assume that our students "should have 
learned", and we are putting the onus on the student, when in fact, 
in school settings students have little control over many factors 
that directly impact their learning and achievement.

A developmental perspective rests on assumptions as well, of course. 
But, the assumptions and the approach that follow from them are 
qualitatively different. A developmental perspective can rest on the 
assumption that we are all, always, learning. It rests on a 
perspective that the teacher's role it to take the student where they 
are without judgement and move them forward, facilitate their 
development--and this applies to the highest scoring students and the 
lowest. I could go on as you can imagine. But let me leave you with a 
quote from one of the greatest intellectuals of the past 500 years 
since one of the touchstones of this discussion has been "remedial" 
vs. "developmental" reading. Goethe is reputed to have said, "I have 
spent a lifetime learning to read."

Nic
-- 


Dominic J. Voge
UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
Language, Literacy and Culture
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"What we seek to know is our knowledge of reality, not Reality."-- 
Anne E. Berthoff

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