I’ve been fascinated and frustrated, in equal measure, to the many misrepresentations and misunderstandings of my claims regarding reading instruction, the lack of citations to my published work when obviously relevant, and failures to respond to direct and straightforward questions and challenges. In the past few blogposts I have detailed examples of all this with regards to my critique on phonics, and here I want to briefly focus on “Structured Word Inquiry” or SWI.
Nate Joseph, the teacher who hosted my recent debate with Kathyn Garforth, had a detailed conversation with my brother Peter Bowers who introduced the term SWI. I’ve posted links to the conversation below. Nate is a proponent of phonics, a skeptic of SWI, but against the grain, he seems honestly interested in learning what SWI is about. And this provides a great context to understand SWI, as Nate has the same questions that so many proponents of phonics have, he repeats some of the common mischaracterizations of SWI, and has difficulty following some fundamental points that go against his core assumptions. But to his credit, he listens, and Peter does a great job explaining. If you want to know whether SWI teaches GPCs, how it teaches GPCs, how you can teach SWI from the start, why SWI is not another form of phonics, what is the theoretical motivation of SWI, what are the claims regarding the evidence of SWI, etc., then this is a good place to start. Yes, it is long, but if you are seriously interested in reading instruction, you are a proponent of phonics, you have been asking about SWI on twitter, then it is time well spent. If in the future you ask me on twitter: “how does SWI work on day one?”, or any of the above questions, I can just point you to these videos. Happy to exchange more after that, but first, watch the videos.
Video Part I | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUSPxy55xH4
Video Part II | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7x_LlYL4Z4