Who says J-O-H-N-N-Y can’t read?

A global expert on child development, Professor Marc Marschark (left), director of the Center for Education Research Partnerships at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY, will present a special lecture today to students in the Department of Psychology in York’s Faculty of Arts. Marschark is a well-published researcher in child development, who specializes in language cognition literacy interface in development. He has published many books and articles on related issues and much of his work has focused on deafness. He is the founder and editor of the Journal of Deaf Studies & Deaf Education. Marschark is also an honorary professor at the University of Aderdeen in Scotland.

Marschark’s lecture titled “Language, Literacy, and Cognition in Deaf Children: Who Says J-O-H-N-N-Y Can’t Read? (or, Where Are All the Psychologists When You Need Them?)”, addresses the history of language and cognition in deaf individuals.

“Psychologists have taken a keen historical interest in language and cognition in deaf individuals. Indeed, cognitive psychologists and psycholinguists (and ‘verbal learners’ before them) have played a central role in our understanding of language and learning among deaf children and, indirectly, in proscribing educational methods deemed appropriate for them,” says Marschark in the lecture abstract. “Studies of thinking, memory, and problem solving with individuals who, prior to the 1960s, largely were seen as without language, have contributed to our understanding of human intelligence and cognition. But something has gone awry.

“The most common generalization about deaf learners is that they lag far behind hearing peers in the acquisition of literacy skills,” says Marschark. “Although standardized tests and the experience of any teacher who has worked with deaf students attest to this finding, both its locus and methods to ameliorate it have resisted identification for more than 100 years, despite a new ‘methode du jour’ coming into vogue every 10 years or so.”

Marschark’s presentation suggests that we have not yet identified the underpinnings of deaf students’ lags in literacy – and academic achievement at large – simply because we have been looking in the wrong place.

Marschark will deliver his lecture today, at 2:30pm in Room 291 in the Behavioral Sciences Building on York’s Keele campus. Members of the York community are welcome to attend this free lecture. For more information, visit Marc Marschark’s Web site.