Reading pedagogy is constantly an object of discussion and debate in contemporary policy and practice but is rarely a matter for historical inquiry. This paper reports from a recent study of the history of reading pedagogy in Australia and beyond. It focuses on a recurring figure in the historical record—the ‘reading lesson’. Presented as a distinctive trope, the reading lesson is traced in its regularity in and through the discourse of reading pedagogy, starting in 1930s Australia and moving back into 19th-century Europe, and with specific reference to the UK and the USA. Teaching reading is expressly identified as a moral project—something that, it can be argued, clearly continues into the present
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