That Hypocrite Shanahan — Cueing Systems vs. Context Analysis

Timothy Shanahan:

Teacher question:

I attended your recent webinar and you said that students should figure out the meanings of words from context and that they needed to be able to deal with syntax. But I’ve also read that you are against the 3-cueing systems. Isn’t that a contradiction? It seems hypocritical to criticize teachers for teaching 3-cueing and then to turn and around and recommend that they do just that.

Shanahan responds:

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”

What I said may seem inconsistent, but it would be foolishly so if I had ignored the fact that two distinctly different processes have to be developed in reading —word reading/decoding and reading comprehension. That these two processes have different purposes and operate somewhat differently shouldn’t be beyond the grasp of even the “small minds” among us 

The idea of cueing systems comes from analyses of oral reading errors (or miscues), and a theory of how words are read that simply has not held up to scrutiny. The late Kenneth Goodman examined word reading and found that when words were misread, you could categorize the errors. For example, a student is reading a sentence like: