Teaching Reading: The ‘3 Cueing System’ – is it the ‘Holy Grail’ or a ‘Red Herring’?

Personally I never use a ‘cloze test’ as it discriminates against a lot of kids who are good at reading but poor on cloze techniques.

Find a reputable cognitive psychologist – just one, who will support the use of the ‘three cuing guessing game’ in foundation reading. You won’t find one. They all know that the cognitive load you place on the hapless infant learners is way in excess of what any educator worth their salt would recommend for infants. It’s bad teaching & is the fault of teacher trainers and shonky ideological pedagogy advocates, who indulge in rhetoric & jargon to convincingly parcel up their bad ideas. This teacher and many more are no longer buying it.

The reason we accept as normal, so many readers who fluently misread words is proof against, not in favour of the frequent over-emphasis on the ‘3 cuing system’ that is bandied around as though it is the holy grail. It is not. It actually CAUSES reading problems when inappropriately applied to infants.

We all know that as we advance in ACCURATE word identification – to the point of automaticity. We begin to use predictive cuing, which I might add trips up an excellent reader as well as assists speed of reading at other times – it isn’t and never will be a foolproof system, regardless of what self appointed experts might try to convince us.

One thing that ‘cloze’ does demonstrate, is the heavy load on cognitive function and fluency when the letters are not there. Nobody can read a cloze passage with the speed, accuracy, comprehension or assurance that we can a passage where we are NOT reliant on the cues. What good readers (who rarely make errors when reading) do use the cuing system for is vocabulary acquisition – but they NEVER use it as a word identification tool, good readers don’t need to do this … and they rarely need to be directly taught to use it for vocabulary purposes as this seems to be a natural progression for most of us. I use it but I was never ‘directly taught’ to do so.

Currently we fail to directly teach that which NEEDS to be directly taught and directly teach that which does NOT need to be directly taught – go figure.

Decoding for reading and encoding for spelling are the foundation skills behind every competent reader and writer. ‘Three cue guessing’ should have long ago been relegated to the rubbish heap of bad pedagogical practice in infant grades. Maybe then remedial teachers wouldn’t have to expend so much energy ‘un-teaching’ bad habits i.e. inaccurate whole word guessing that offers zero support for spelling.

Forgive the rant but I’m just so fed up with these repeated mantras. Three decades of rotten results is ample proof for me of the ineffectiveness of the “Three Cueing System” in early grades.

Summing up … PoD_Red_Herring

1 thought on “Teaching Reading: The ‘3 Cueing System’ – is it the ‘Holy Grail’ or a ‘Red Herring’?

  1. Some years ago, Marilyn Jager Adams addressed this issue on-line. First, she wrote that real child psychologists had never heard the term, nor did most know where it came from. Then she pointed out that the “Venn diagram” used to illustrate the theory, showed that ALL THREE of the cueing systems (understanding, meaning, and phonics) had to overlap in order for the system to be valid and true, and since is impossible for “meaning” to substitute for phonics, the whole idea had done immeasurable harm to the world’s children.

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