It is hard to find words to express what Marie Clay has meant to the field of reading education around the world.
Who has done more to promote young children's literacy?
Who has done more to promote teachers' professional knowledge, confidence, and practice?
Who has done more to promote the concept of research-based practice and practice-based research?
No one, I think. …
P. David Pearson
University of California Berkeley
Marie Clay: Teacher, researcher, author, and champion of young readers
Acknowledgement: This brief biography is adapted from the 1999 book, Stirring the Waters: The Influence of Marie Clay, edited by Janet S. Gaffney and Billie Askew. It is presented here with permission of the authors and the publisher, Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. Text has been updated in a few places from text that appears in the original book.
Marie M. Clay
Born in 1926 in Wellington, the capital city on the southern tip of the North Island, Clay is uniquely New Zealand -- frugal and resourceful. Although education is a top priority in New Zealand, funding for schools and research leaves no room for excess and spurs ingenuity and cooperation. Historically, the national curriculum was developed and revised by educators, with products of collegial work attributed to the New Zealand Department of Education rather than to individuals. From the beginning of their programs at a teachers college, pre-service teachers work in schools, and they apprentice with master teachers as they enter the profession. These cultural features are footholds in Marie’s work, as reflected in her concern for the “economic use of a child’s learning time” and the central role that collegial interactions play in professional development.
We open doors to a literate future for children who initially struggle in learning to read and write.