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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Robert Slavin, Who Studied How Children Learn, Dies at 70

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Not everyone applauded Dr. Slavin’s approach. Some teachers objected to his highly scripted curriculums, which they said allowed insufficient time for more spontaneous approaches, and to the emphasis on phonics, which introduces slower readers to the science of language — the sounds words make, the letters that represent those sounds and the way those sounds make words — rather than first teaching them a love of literature.

Robert Edward Slavin was born on Sept. 17, 1950, in Bethesda, Md., to Joseph Slavin, a clinical psychologist who led the Washington School of Psychiatry, and Miriam (Crohn) Slavin, a homemaker and mother of five.

In 1972, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Reed College in Portland, Ore., where a professor delivered a prophecy that he would fulfill: that educators have the ability not only to teach, but also to transform students’ lives.

At Reed, he met Ms. Madden, a fellow undergraduate. They worked at Portland elementary schools, and he taught children with disabilities. They married in 1973.

In 1975, he received a doctorate from the Department of Social Relations at Johns Hopkins University.

He is survived by his wife, now a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, and by their three children, Jacob, Benjamin and Rebecca Slavin; his siblings, Thomas, Daniel, Paul and Julia Slavin; three grandchildren; and his mother.

Dr. Slavin was the author of two dozen books, most of which elaborated on his commitment to “evidence-based” research that substantiated the most effective teaching methods.

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