Can you fix it? Reading skills essential to economy

Last updated 05:00 19/10/2012

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Can you fix the economy?

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In spite of higher unemployment there is a shortage of skilled workers.

In spite of a fabulous boom, 1/8 th of Australia's citizens live below the poverty line.

About 70 per cent of New Zealanders and Australians cannot read with understanding beyond a reading age of 9-10.

As one must have a memory of language to read with comprehension, 45  per cent of Aucklanders are from a non-English speaking background and have low English language skills.

Many of these people will never have the opportunity to learn to read fluently and remember what they were reading about.

In addition, one person in six has an Auditory Processing Disorder caused by New Zealand's notoriously low housing standards (glue ear), or genetics.

At present teachers assess letters, words and basic comprehension. Reading is really "metacognition" - the synthesising of listening, speaking and reading.

There are no schools in New Zealand which effectively co-ordinate literacy and linguistics. I know because, as a relieving teacher, I went into most of Auckland's schools.

However, new theory and practice has been developed by New Zealand teachers and researchers over the past 30 years.

As an educator I am working towards the day when all people will be able to place food on their table, and all mothers can be proud of their children.

John Callahan is an English, reading and memory programme teacher.

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