The authors have undertaken an historical analysis of a random sample of early reading textbooks that enjoyed widespread use in literacy instruction from 1835 to 1847. In historical analysis, the researcher uses the method of content analysis, in which texts and documents are examined and given careful consideration based on the content and context in which they were produced. This type of analysis may yield quantitative and/or qualitative data. There are many examples of this in the field of literacy history. Findings of this study include evidence that supports oral discourse theory and unavoidable social context of literacy materials. Evidence provides references to morality, virtue, religion, and the role of women in society. Additionally, several cherished traditions in literacy education are observed, such as sequential learning and emphasis on orthography, elocution, and the alphabetic method. These findings are then used to provide perspective when considering current movements in literacy education as they exist in the US, the UK, France, and other countries. Movements in these countries, as well as in the US, include a heavy emphasis on testing, phonics, and common curriculum standards as well as a prescriptive approach to literacy. The authors join others in the literacy field in questioning the wisdom of returning to methods that lack solid empirical evidence to substantiate these practices, especially when considering the literacy needs of students in the twenty-first century.
|Keywords:||Literacy Education, Early Literacy Texts, Standards|
Professor, Department of Teacher Education, Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, USA
Graduate Student, Department of Education Specialties, Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, USA
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