Episode 22 - Global Literacy, Digital Reading, and Social Justice with Maryanne Wolf, PhD

Episode Summary

Join the READ Podcast for an exclusive follow up episode with Maryanne Wolf, PhD. The conversation builds off last month’s episode on the science and story of the reading brain, Danielle and Dr. Wolf dive into literacy at the intersection of social justice and digital reading on a global scale. Highlighting her work as an innovator and social entrepreneur, Dr. Wolf shares the impact of Curious Learning on global literacy as well as her thoughts on the digital reading revolution, collaborative efforts with organizations around the world, and leadership at the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at UCLA. At the end of the interview, Dr. Wolf and Danielle discuss needed investments in policy platforms and Dr. Wolf offers hope for a revitalized educational future.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.” 

"I want to be sure that I put my little, tiny tin cup of knowledge into play under the great cascade of human efforts to bring human development to its next stage for so many children and individuals as possible."

1. Literacy on a Global Scale

UNESCO cites:
- 773 million people around the world cannot read and write
- 250 million children worldwide lack basic literacy skills.

Dr. Wolf was integral in the creation of Curious Learning, a digital app that provides access to literacy instruction to children who cannot attain it through traditional schools or teachers.

2. The Promise and Caution of Digital Literacy

The promise of digital literacy is the ability to disseminate vast amounts of information quickly and efficiently, but there is a consequence to the deep reading required for complex cognitive and affective processing and ultimately, critical analysis. The expansion of digital literacy depends on the context and environment.

"I have to balance the fact that I am both an advocate and a critic of digital technology."

Human interactions with teachers are critical, and the ability to teach is a gift not offered by digital platforms alone.

"There is nothing more beautiful than the interaction between one human and another… A teacher is such an exceptional gift. I think it's now becoming so much clearer to people how important teachers are."

3. Dr. Wolf’s Advocacy in Policy

Dr. Wolf calls for changes in policy in:

1. Zero to Five literacy campaign focusing on educating parents on integrating language, reading, and music in their children’s early lives

2. Early screening for reading and language deficits

"[Early] screening would give information to help that first grade teacher from the start and change how they teach reading- not as a one size fits all- but as a more targeted set of ways of teaching our children."

3. Pre-service teacher preparation and professional development in the Science of Reading

"We cannot neglect a single child or youth."

4. Continued investment through focused instruction and support for struggling readers in the older grades

"When we put our tin cups [of knowledge] together, we are going to change the world."


Learn more about Maryanne Wolf, PhD       

Recommended Further Reading:

Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Dr. Wolf at the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice

Learn more about Curious Learning

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.