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									                   AmericAn secondAry educAtion 38(3) summer 2010

     enter the villAin: AgAinst orAl reAding
              in secondAry schools


     AlAn FrAger, ed.d., is a Professor of Education at Miami University in Ox-
     ford, Ohio.

     Both content area teachers and reading teachers often see oral reading in epic
     proportions, as a hero in the struggle for the best way to motivate students
     to read. This article briefly reviews the reasons that are commonly given for
     supporting the use of oral reading in the classroom. The author then provides
     a rationale for opposing traditional student oral reading practices as well as
     teacher read alouds in secondary school classrooms.

     Dickens’ Scrooge is a generous philanthropist compared to me. Rowlings’
     Lord Voldemort is an examplar of social conscience compared to me. Darth
     Vader is a humble, loving patriarch compared to me. Why am I such a vil-
     lain in the eyes of students, colleagues, and school administrators? I oppose
     oral reading in secondary schools. There is something about oral reading
     that makes heroes of those who are its champions and villains of its op-
     ponents. So be it, but in books and movies, when he has the hero is in
     his grasp, the villain has his say. Here is mine: oral reading in a secondary
     school classroom is a practice that makes many promises, but few if any,
     are ever kept.

reAsons For orAl reAding
     The professional literature is replete with reasons and methods for both
     teachers and students to use oral reading in secondary school classrooms.
     Advocates of teachers reading aloud begin with Jim Trelease, author of The
     Read-Aloud Handbook (2006), whose enthusiasm for parent and teacher
     oral reading has influenced millions to see the powerful effect that profi-

                 AmericAn secondAry educAtion 38(3) summer 2010
FrAger                         enter the villAin: AgAinst orAl reAding in secondAry schools

     cient oral reading of interesting books has on children’s motivation to read.
     Another argument for teachers to read orally is based on the belief that
     orality creates in the classroom a sense of fairness, since all learners are
     “exposed” to the same information (Optiz and Rasinski, 1998).
           Proponents of student oral reading might begin with Jane Stallings
     (1984) whose study of instruction in 43 secondary classrooms found that
     the use of or
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