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date: 26 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Modern pedagogy presumes that students require preparation for literacy training, often easing them into reading by way of pictures and song. Earlier modes of pedagogy from the Middle Ages until relatively recently proceeded much more quickly, teaching students with sentences and short texts from the start. There was an emotional cost to this speed, as early schoolbooks acknowledged in the very violence they embrace. But examining this difference in approach closely also makes clear that modern classrooms rely on prior knowledge more than they admit, and, also, that the pace of modern teaching only serves to conceal the difficult but nearly unteachable cognitive leap that may well be the essential step in to learning to read.

Keywords: elementary learning, literacy, schoolbooks, medieval, pedagogy, primers

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