Mark Seidenberg

Vilas Research Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Let’s Talk.

I’m a scientist who studies reading and language—especially how children acquire these skills. For this session, I am at your disposal: What can I do for you? Come in with your most basic questions and concerns. I’ll have a few of my own, but what do you want to know, or ask, or challenge?

Issues that concern me:
· “Innovative” new strategies for teaching reading: really?
· Does reading need to be taught?
· Reading vs. literacy: What difference does it make?
· Brain evidence: Does it tell us anything we didn’t already know about behavior?
· Impact of language experience: Dialects, bilinguals, quantity and diversity
· Poverty: It matters. Now what?
· Preparing teachers for the job: how could it be improved?

Things I could explain:
· Explicit instruction and implicit learning: How they work together
· Phonics, schmonics: Reading depends on speech. How, why do they get connected?
· Does dyslexia exist? Should you care?
· Differences between children: Learning styles, experience, culture, and motivation
· Who can you trust? Tell-tale signs, and why skepticism is healthy

I’ll take a quick survey to learn things that concern you, and we’ll decide which topics you want to cover the most. And then get into them.


Mark Seidenberg is a cognitive neuroscientist who has studied reading and language since the disco era. He studies how children learn to read, the neural and behavioral bases of reading skill, and the causes of reading impairments. He is the author of ‘Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can be Done About It’ (Basic Books, 2017), an engrossing overview of reading science. He argues that the disconnection between this science and educational practice contributes to low literacy and undermines teacher effectiveness. Closing this gap is essential to improving educational outcomes.