ATE-VA The Teacher Educators Journal 2012
To: Virginia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education
From: Westy Weeds
Subject: A very important book on the psychology of reading versus this country’s current politics of blaming teachers, unions, and school districts.
Please let leaders, staff and teachers in your department know about this book—it’s the perfect summer sabbatical read—and very timely to today’s political realities such as testing versus learning.
June 17, 2013
Dear VACTE Leadership Representative:
I believe you are very busy but I think you will find this book about reading education to be important. So I hope you read this.
I, Westy Weeds, recently self-published an important and powerful book. You can find it listed at Amazon.com. Google: “Westy Weeds” and/ or “The Alchemy of Reading Into the Chemistry of Words: A Book on the Psychology of Reading Comprehension”. There is some description there but I still need to get the preface and introduction made available (taking longer than expected). I would be willing to email the prose content of preface and introduction (or one interested in doing a book announcement (it helps sell the book)).
I am not a member of International Reading Association because I am not a teacher. I do however know quite a lot about quality reading (a subject I once minored). Still this is basically an outsider’s point of view—as I’m not involved in any education capacity except this book.
Still I’m hoping it gets a “fair” hearing as one person with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, and who has and books on the market, has already claimed to me that I’m not qualified to write such a book, saying it is an “insult” to literacy professionals (even though she has never bothered to look at my book or at least read part of it before pronouncing snap judgments).
This work is not a major attack on traditional teachers or institutions—although I do question some areas of emphasis. For example, it seems perplexing why so many professionals took so long in questioning the inferior strategy of speed-reading or a constant emphasis on increasing rate? My first chapter argues the importance of taking your time when you read.
There has always been controversies in education and reading. Furthermore variety of opinion or suggestion is not necessarily a negative reality and can be a good thing. Given all the debates about education today you cannot argue the science and art of reading comprehension has thus far been perfected so there is no need for any new perspectives?
The Alchemy of Reading Into the Chemistry of Words is about real “strategy” and “attitude” approaches for reading comprehension excellence (and it is an interesting work). It is not quick fix tricks or simple generalizations. But note it is not a humdrum book of pedagogy even as it addresses the most essential skills and insights. Where else are you going to find a chapter called: The Art and Science of Confusion? What other book has a chapter on the importance of libraries but starts out with several pages on dragon lore until you are provoked to ask what dragons have to do with libraries? Besides getting to the core of what reading really entails, what other title has its unique interpretation to the nature or fairies as an art of perception? There are “many” interesting ideas and philosophical points made.
Also it is highly relevant to reading about politics and social issues (including and especially adults bewildered in a sea of political propaganda—one of more than a handful of topics given short shrift in most books on reading aptitude).
I would not be wasting your time unless I thought this book truly important. And I wish I could send you a copy gratis but the truth is I don’t even have a shoestring budget to promote this work. It’s only $19.95, a mere 20 dollar bill—far less expensive than what some cognitive psychologists price their work on esoteric theories and hypothetical research that amounts to a lot of tedious head scratching. My book is on practical matters—not complete chapters on measuring eye movements or hypothetical models on how the brain works. The first question on the back cover is: “Can a book be worth its weight in gold?” (But don’t buy a used copy, as the first limited printing, last year, needed editing for a couple chapters—get the second run copy at 480 pages).
And yes we all have a right to our “own” opinion, especially those regarded as traditional experts, but even professionals should practice caution rather than setting themselves as the “sole” arbiters of who is, and who is not, a so-called expert, or is worthy of giving advice. Nobody speaks for an entire profession or class of people.
Equally there is no priest-craft cult that “owns” all the relevant secrets about quality education. Reading is a ubiquitous set of skills practiced by many types of professional and by millions and millions of people worldwide—to different levels of effectiveness, satisfaction and competence. We could be asking ourselves why there are so many “alliterates” (people who have some literacy skill but choose not to read much) in the U.S.? How does this fact relate to a status quo?
Effective reading is a very important subject in a time when political ideologues want to gut school budgets and privatize for profit motive. Professional educators should be far more concerned about political outsiders and legislators who want to run education institutions on a strictly business model or those investors/ business tycoons who see the field of education as a cash cow “industry” for profits to the bottom line. Diane Ravitch confronts that politics best in her latest book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education 2010.
I don’t want to delay any further in making people aware of my title since summer is here.
Sincerely, and thank you for your consideration,
Westy Weeds email@example.com
A very important book on the psychology of reading versus this country’s current politics of blaming teachers, unions, and school districts.
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