The child’s understanding of the functions and processes of communication

  • John Downing


Our ignorance about how children learn to read is still enormous, despite all the research that has been carried out. Nevertheless, every now and again we make a small step forward by recognizing the importance of some key question in our theoretical understanding of reading. There are signs that we are now on the threshold of such an advance. In the past two decades a number of different researchers, in diverse countries and working on separate lines of inquiry, have produced findings which now seem to be fitting together into the beginnings of a new theory of how children learn to read. Work from five areas — child development, special education, educational psychology, psycholinguistics, and reading itself — seems to link up to indicate that the critical factor in developing reading skill may be the child’s clarity of thought in the reasoning and problem-solving tasks involved in learning how to read. In this chapter we shall review the relevant research from psychology and education. This research review is designed to give the reader a picture of how various lines of investigation come together to support the ‘cognitive clarity theory of learning to read’ that will be presented in Chapter 3. ‘Cognitive clarity’ is used here as a technical label for the psychological components that lie behind what the layman might refer to as ‘clear understanding’, ‘clear thinking’, ‘grasping the problem’, or, even more colloquially, ‘the penny dropping’.


Reading Disability Disable Reader Functional Concept Vague Idea Pragmatic Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© John Downing 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Downing
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations