Oral Discourse and Reading

Authored by: Joshua F. Lawrence , Catherine E. Snow

Handbook of Reading Research

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805853421
eBook ISBN: 9780203840412
Adobe ISBN: 9781136891427


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In 1923, Walter Barnes, then Head of the English Department at Fairmont State Normal School in West Virginia, published a brief volume called The New Democracy in the Teaching of English, in which he argued that much of what went on in English classes was ineffective, and thus undemocratic, because it failed to motivate students or to prepare them for lives of reading or using English in any but high literary ways. He argued that students should be given a wide array of books to read, not just the classics, and that they should be encouraged to read “for life, not art,” in other words, quickly and for the story rather than studiously for the literary craft. He also argued for deleting the rhetorical forms of narration, description, exposition, and argumentation from writing instruction, in favor of focus on useful oral and written language forms—conversation, discussion, explanation, informal argument, speech-making, story-telling, and letter-writing.

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