Skip to comments.In The Clutches of the Sight-Word Monster
Posted on 01/02/2012 7:18:49 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
GOOD INSIGHTS ON WHY MILLIONS OF KIDS CAN'T READ. (A FOLLOW-UP FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN EARLIER POST TITLED "FAKE READING THEORY IS THE SLAVE TRADE OF OUR ERA.")
The country continues to be plagued by illiteracy. The reason is simple. The country continues to be under the heel of some of the most reckless and reprehensible experts imaginable.
They make little children memorize the SHAPES of words, which most little children simply cant do. Ergo, these children experience major reading and cognitive problems.
Don Potter, the phonics guru and as well a teacher in Texas, recently sent me this illuminating note: This has been a banner year for me. I have rescued dozens of students from the clutches of the sight-word monster. I am looking forward to rescuing more in the year to come. The parents marvel that I have been able to improve their children's reading with phonics in a very short time. They are also very upset to learn that their children were suffering, not genetic defects that screwed up neural pathways, but old fashioned artificially induced whole-word dyslexia caused by sight-word instruction. Every student coming to me has a copy of the Dolch Sight Vocabulary List in their Homework Folder.
Note that the parents had embraced the idea that their kids were mentally impaired (dyslexic) but are now shocked to find that the kids are normal! (In fact, its the school that is mentally impaired.) There in a few dozen words is the whole story of dyslexia in our time. Parents and kids accept the schools nutty diagnosis but in many cases will be angry with you if you tell them, sorry, youre fine but you are the victim of a hoax. (I have a video on YouTube called "The Strange Truth About Dyslexia." People leave really violent comments on it.)
QED: the Dolch Sight Vocabulary List should be removed from every school.
Now, I want to give you a little more detail about the reading debate...but not too much! Reading theory quickly becomes murky; and I believe our Education Establishment uses the general confusion to keep their bad ideas in play.
Happily, Ive found an excellent way to explore some of the subtleties. Raymond Laurita was a major crusader 40 years ago; in 1967 he published an article titled Errors Children Make in Reading. Ive cut his article down to the best parts; and I promise you will be glad you read them. They explain how Sight-Words do their evil work:
On hearing the errors of these unfortunate children, the first impulse is to attribute them to a lack of intelligence or even some form of mental aberration. The linguistic monstrosities these children perpetrate appear to be without semblance of logic or consistency...
The primary cause of reading difficulties in virtually all of the over 700 cases of reading disability I have treated over the years was related to difficulties the child encountered in attempting to cope with the problems imposed by whole configurations....
When a child is exposed to a whole word configuration such as could for example, without sufficient preparation, we are literally opening a Pandoras Box of possible confusions....
To the immature child who hasnt developed adequate visual and auditory identity and association between individual language symbols and the words they form, the word could will undoubtedly be confused later with a variety of configurations; among them: cold, called, cloud, canned, cooled, clawed, cord, would, should, etc....It isnt difficult for the more than casual observer to understand why so many children become reading problems. They simply cannot cope fast enough with the need to learn numerous and unrelated whole word configurations on a purely visual basis.
It must be remembered that children who learn by the sight method, and this constitutes the majority of children in the United States, have been scientifically conditioned during the initial exposure period to a learning experience which by its very nature elicits a purely visual response to a configuration without assistance from auditory clues. No sincere educator can pretend that this initial exposure period hasnt a most profound and enduring effect on the immature child, for by a series of carefully arranged stimulus-response activities, he has been literally conditioned to a visual, configurational attack on language. The result is inevitable.
The argument of those who persist in exposing all children indiscriminately to a visual configurational attack is usually based on post-facto reasoning, for they tend to cite the large numbers of children who have learned to read without first making auditory and visual associations with the individual letters of the alphabet. It is my belief and that of others that children who learn to read using a gestalt approach which exposes them to whole word configurations at the outset, are children who have had either prior preparation which prepared them for the experience or are those children gifted with better than average capacities of visual perception, discrimination and memory....
Alex Bannatyne writing in The Disabled Reader, states This latter method, commonly called look-and-say, may be effective with those two thirds of first- and second-grade pupils who are sufficiently gifted in the realm of language to be able to learn to read quickly. I believe that these verbally capable children rapidly teach themselves to analyze words phonetically in spite of a deliberate non-phonetic approach on the part of the teacher. That this is so can easily be tested by asking children who have learned to read well using the look-and-say method to sound out difficult words; this they usually do quite competently....
The subtlety and infinite diversity of the errors that the child becomes subject to in his developing confusion have to be seen to be believed....
Another example saw a child respond to the word grab with the response drag. This is an extremely common type of error for it has in addition to the visual confusion an overlay of confused auditory association. The consonant blends gr and dr are extremely difficult to differentiate for the child with inadequate auditory perception and discrimination. The two sounds are very similar as are the lip movements which are made to create them. In addition to the auditory confusion and the close configurational pattern of the two words, the child was also reversing the initial and final consonants. This child also referred to a furry animal as a funny animal and read about a character who went swimming in the winter instead of in the water. Both of these errors had a configurational base with the error involving the words furry and funny complicated by a discrimination confusion between the n and the r. This child also made the following progression in mistaking the word Oh. He went from oh to on to no and finally concluded the series with not.
These confusions are not extreme examples of severely disabled children but are instead rather common samples that every remedial teacher will meet on a given day if the time is taken to record the mistakes children make.
Often a child will read a sentence such as: The little boy went into the jungle and saw a big giraffe. and substitute for the last word: elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus or even dinosaur. Most adults fail to realize the subtle yet logical cause for this kind of mistake. It is really very logical for the child who has been conditioned to respond to visual stimuli. He isnt thinking in terms of auditory clues, rather he is sure only that the little boy has seen some kind of large jungle animal. Unless he is a capable, linguistically talented child, his auditory associational training hasnt prepared him for a total attack on the word, thus why shouldnt it be a hippopotamus, elephant, rhinoceros or even a dinosaur. They are all big words in terms of size; they are all large animals and to the small child the possibility of a dinosaur residing in the depths of the jungle is a distinct possibility....
Observing a child who has lost some of this marvelous human capacity to respond with reasoning and logic, is a terribly depressing sight, and when one considers the number of times that human frailty in the form of faulty teaching and inadequate methodology has been the cause of this loss, the situation takes on the aspects of a tragedy....
QED: the Dolch Sight Vocabulary List is the reason we have 50 million functional illiterates. It should be removed from every school. All the phonics experts say that children learn to read in the first grade. The Whole Word maniacs say that children will read some day, maybe, perhaps in middle school, but dont be surprised if they experience ADHD, depression, dyslexia, and chronic illiteracy.
Don Potter publishes this article and many like it on donpotter.net. His site is an archive of historically important material.
My own focus is on providing artillery for parents to use in their daily battles with school administrators. Many of these officials may actually have no idea how far over to the dark side they have drifted. (They make the mistake of trusting the pronouncements coming down from on high.) So send them a copy of this post or the article titled: Fake Reading Theory is the Slave Trade of Our Era. (on RightSideNews)
(Improve-Education.org also has 10 articles about reading.)
thank you teachers union
So what happens in sight reading when you spot a word you haven’t sighted before. Yeah( I know it should be seen, LOL)
the teachers union is evil incarnate
“...sight reading is same/same as reading Chinese or other Asian languages”
Not really, if it was, we wouldn’t have the reading mess - after all, they do quite well learning their languages. No, the Asian languages are visual-based. There are no capital letters in “zjur” or whatever the hell they call it, there isn’t italics, there isn’t anything to confuse them. Those languages do work by sight.
No, English is a Phonics-based language. The schools tried Whole Language (sight-reading) and it failed. So what did they do? They got rid of Whole Language (yea) and replaced it with Sight-Words (sight-reading), through THIRD GRADE - a whole 315 of them words. Then they go to phonics (i.e., after the kid is 9 YEARS OLD). By then, they’ve accomplished their goal - the AMERICAN kid will be a crappy reader for life, thus helping to make up for our past sins around the world.
So I will only say to people out there with young kids - DO NOT LET THEM ‘LEARN’ READING THIS WAY!!! I realize that a lot of you will still send you kids to public school, and I’m not here to judge you on that, but whatever you do, DO NOT let them be taught sight words before they learn to actually read - it will destroy them (same advice for kids going to private schools).
Any normal kid can learn to read through phonics by Age 5. Teach them - or have them taught, but make darn sure that they can read BEFORE they step into Kindergarten. You get ONE CHANCE to get this right for each of your kids, don’t blow it.
Bump for later reading.
This reads like the la leche league nazis who drove my wife into nearly fatal post partem depression. It's sick.
I'm no fan of the public schools, but blind faith in a system of "phonics" rules in a language that's been blended from Romance, Germanic, and Celtic tongues is just stupid. You're as bad as the Dolch only crowd.
Phonics only is just as abusive to kids as training them up on sight words only. Get a life. Use the tools that work, when they work. Parts of English are phonics based. Parts are not. Get over it.
“Phonics only is just as abusive to kids as training them up on sight words only. Get a life. Use the tools that work, when they work. Parts of English are phonics based. Parts are not. Get over it. “
One of the hard things in life for a lot of conservatives to grasp is that things CAN be black and white. Phonics is clearly a case of that. Just as traditional math vs. fuzzy math is also a no-brainer.
I’m sorry if you put your faith in sight-words (or didn’t know better at the time)...but I’m really trying to reach parents that still have options.
My mom used to tell me that the first word I read out loud was “watermelon” from a grocery ad when I was 4 years old. That is a pretty easy word to sound out. A year afterwards I could spell “Albuquerque.” It was no big deal to me, but again it sounds out easily except for the “qu” quirk (and Q is virtually always followed by U in English so it is not a hard rule). It stuns me that this was considered precocious! English speaking parents ought to help kids sound out words from the earliest age they can begin to recognize letters in words. A non-phonics-aided approach stinks at producing competent spellers, let alone readers.
Don’t put them into the public school period.....It is not only designed intentionally to destroy intelligence, but it is specifically designed to target morality and Christian/Jewish Ethics——destroy that paradigm and replace it with the moral relativism of Marx/heathens/pagans/muslims.
BK Eakman’s book, THe Cloning of the American Mind explains how the strands and methodologies are immersed in BF SKINNER behaviorism to elicit one response-—from children—the Marxist/hedonist one.
Billy Ayers and cultural Marxists from the 30’s on—have infiltrated all textbooks to totally transform us—remove the Christian paradigm that we have always operated under and replace it with Marxism-—where there is no difference between boys and girls-—they are interchangeable-—hell with science and biology and Truth—there is no God—no Right and Wrong.
Just what “feels good, Do it”-—the cultural Marxist pervert Marcuse. Destroy the morality of children-—corrupt them—fill their heads with nonsense—remove the Classics—everything which teaches Virtue—Duty =Justice Truth and replace it with sodomy and put up heroes like Milk who was a pederast and like the pederast and homosexual founder who was a Communist—Hays.
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
You’ve yet to answer this question, so I predict that you will ignore this one as well: how do you explain all those countries that out score us on literacy, yet have written languages that aren’t phonetic? Of choose you can’t, or won’t, because phonics is not the answer.
Rarely do I see such arrogance combined with such a profound lack of knowledge about a topic. Ah, but this is the internet, where everyone gets to pretend that his opinion is sound. You sound exactly like a government school employee.
Odd. I taught my children whole wood in Homeschool because I recognized that phonics is a sham, and as adults now, they are doing fine.
“all our kids learned to read phonetically at home and well before the rest of their class “
So here are my questions (based on my other response, which wasn’t as friendly):
1) Did you EVER try to get them to read ANY words by sight (i.e., memorizing the shape of the word) before they could sound out words?
2) Are any of them crappy readers today?
3) Do any of them have dyslexia?
4) Do you see ANY value at all in doing Sight Words first, or in parallel with phonics?
They dropped phonics because of Cultural Marxist infiltration-—Communists were writing and designing all curricula (Dr. Ruggs, Dr. Counts) and when parents in the 30’s revolted because for the first time in the history of America we were putting illiterates out—who went to school for years and still couldn’t read-—AND
THEY agreed to put “phonics” back in to appease the angry parents. What the parents didn’t understand was that the Marxists were intentionally destroying the ability to be educated-—and when they replaced it-—it was a pseudo-phonics-—to trick parents.
Look up the difference between Explicit and Implicit phonics. Many parents THINK there schools teach “Phonics” but they are WRONG-—FOOLED by the Billy Ayers type who are writing all the Curricula.
Read Beverly Eakman’s book-—it will make you sick and want to burn ALL TEXTBOOKS__DESTROY DOE—ALL UNIONS etc. We have to get local control of schools and go back to Classical Education. YESTERDAY!!!!!
If your schools (and most are) teaching IMPLICIT phonics GET IT OUT!!! These curricula writers are evil-—this is all intentional folks-—burn all of Billy Ayers stuff-—worldview is in all the texts and they will be little hedonists/atheists/marxist when they go through these textbooks.
“My mom used to tell me that the first word I read out loud was watermelon from a grocery ad when I was 4 years old. “
My oldest sounded out “book store” when he just under 4 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday, because prior to that, I really thought that I might be abusing him, by making him learn all these weird sounds. HE HATED IT!!! And I zero background in how to teach it and nothing assisting me - I was totally winging it (but I did read enough Thomas Sowell to know that I was taking the right approach).
One he sounded out that word, it was 6 months until he read Hamlet cover to cover, playing out the parts. He never looked back. Needless to say, I did the same with my other kids.
Yes, that’s my thesis: “DO NOT LET THEM LEARN READING THIS WAY!!...make darn sure that they can read BEFORE they step into Kindergarten!”
Exactly. The craziness continues in many schools. So inoculate children before they go to school. Ages 2-5. Plenty of time. Then, if the kid is shown a Dolch word but reads it phonetically, he’s safe.
I think this is the really simple, cheap way to save the country, and to defeat what Potter called “the sight-word monster.”
[This strategy is the basis of “54: Preemptive Reading” (just Google title) on Improve-Education.org. Also see something new: “61: Early Literacy Pack.”]
“Dont put them into the public school period.....It is not only designed intentionally to destroy intelligence, but it is specifically designed to target morality and Christian/Jewish Ethicsdestroy that paradigm and replace it with the moral relativism of Marx/heathens/pagans/muslims.”
Obviously I won’t argue with you...but, like it or not, most FReepers will do that. But even the private schools (at least here in Texas) get dragged down by the public schools...it is a mess. Parents really have to take control of at least the critical areas of education (i.e., math and reading).
“Odd. I taught my children whole wood in Homeschool because I recognized that phonics is a sham, and as adults now, they are doing fine.”
That’s not accurate.
Wrong——Explicit phonics is a tool to decode.
Whole words is limited in the words that are ever seen by a kid—plus memory is limited-—so it will prevent them from decoding new words—always. Your kids must be very shallow readers or picked up some phonics in the classroom.
My kids (5) learned phonics at 4 and could read any book by 7-—even the encyclopedias. They could not only read fast-—they could understand what it was they were reading because the habitual pronunciation of only 26 letters and blends allows them total concentration on text and meanings.
There list is great. Works every time.
“Look up the difference between Explicit and Implicit phonics. Many parents THINK there schools teach Phonics but they are WRONG-FOOLED by the Billy Ayers type who are writing all the Curricula.”
Clearly. The education establishment has their agenda, and having well-educated Americans CLEARLY is not part of it. I don’t care if your school is “wonderful” and your teachers are “wonderful”, they ARE part of that system and they DO NOT have a choice as to how to educate your kids - they do what they’re told...and from levels way above anything that parents are aware of.
Parents MUST take control of at least the early years, just so their kids can, later on, read their science books and their math books.
Just stop it. I learned to read whole words when I was four. No one used phonics when I was growing up; everyone learned to read.
“There list is great. Works every time.
Propaganda - we all know that making kids learn the shapes of 250,000 words is a MUCH BETTER way to learn reading. LOL.
Nice link, by the way.
“no to all the above...”
Why am I not surprised? I could ask you if your kids are mad at the ABUSE you put them through, making them learn sounds before the had the chance to memorize the shapes of words (LOL), but I know your answer. Same as my answer.
It’s sad to see people on this defending Whole Language. They must either have a vested interest or be filled with guilt...
Completely false. If that were truly the case then Asian children would be at a serious disadvantage, instead of the stellar academic performers they tend to be.
Whole words is limited in the words that are ever seen by a kidplus memory is limited-so it will prevent them from decoding new wordsalways. Your kids must be very shallow readers or picked up some phonics in the classroom.
Again false. In case you didn't read correctly the first time, my children were homeschooled, so there was no classroom as you put to correct any faults our curriculum may or may not have had. Both are in college and doing quite well, thank you.
My kids (5) learned phonics at 4 and could read any book by 7-even the encyclopedias. They could not only read fast-they could understand what it was they were reading because the habitual pronunciation of only 26 letters and blends allows them total concentration on text and meanings.
Good for you children, truly. I likewise read at four, and not only do I not read phonetically, but I completely lack the internal monologue, and always have. That is to say I do not in any way convert text to sound as I read. I will admit that I didn't learn to spell properly until I was in college, but my case is somewhat unique. It's unusual in and of itself to read naturally and truly silently.
I’m in my forties. Everyone was taught the alphabet at a very early age as a sort of rhyming song, then progressing to understanding the sounds each letter can make, then very basic readers. See Spot run. Run Spot, run. Then gradually increasing complexity of vocabulary, with spelling and vocabulary tests along the way. This continued through to middle school, with decreasing emphasis upon “reading” as a discrete subject, for all but those students having difficulty with it.
Here’s another site:
I don’t even think any sights exist that claim Whole Language is superior (except for maybe some Soros-funded garbage). It’s so discredited that they have to keep changing it’s name, just to keep ahead of the parents.
Here’s their list of names - I don’t think I’ve EVER seen Phonics have to change its name...
Sight reading does not preclude an education in etymology. I can read many words that I’m not familiar with because I recognize the Norse, Latin or Greek roots.
BUT to me, the character and worldview of the children are the most crucial-—that they respect Natural Rights from God—and the fundamentals of freedom and Capitalism.
The textbooks destroy not only the morals of children—it destroys their logic and any Christian Ethics. Strands (methodologies) are designed to target kids who “think” wrong and they guarantee in a switch of worldview. I am speaking about all the socialism in todays texts-—all subjects—even math.
People do not understand child development in forming the basic worldview and moral character in children—which is crucial to EVERYTHING. You will not care if your child is a math wizard if he thinks like Stalin and Hitler-—moral relativists.
BK Eakman outlines the Marxist takeover in all the textbooks since Dewey when they kicked out the McGuffey Readers which was filled with Bible quotes and moral lessons—not the head cutting moral lessons of islam—but the Judeo/Christian Ethics that were in practice since our founding —until Dewey.
How do you read?
Do you read phonetically?
I was sight reading at the age of three. My mother taught me how to read. Phonetics hadn’t caught on in America, yet. She used sight reading with me.
At age seven, I was introduced to phonetics. It confused the hell out of me.
I got around that by already by-passing the reading material that was offered in the reading lessons, because I knew all the damn words that the stupid teacher was trying to re-teach me.
In school, my reading level was always beyond my peers. I never had to take the stupid phonetics lessons because I was grades ahead of them in learning the words and in the content of reading material.
I would read the dictionary for fun, even. For hours.
If a child cannot adapt to one way of learning, I don’t know why another one can’t work instead. Who says there can be only one way to learn? Who says every child learns the same way?
This sounds ridiculous to me, like forcing my children to learn material that doesn’t matter to them, doesn’t help them, and doesn’t grow their minds. Which is exactly what is taught at school... along with phonetics.
My 12 year old son is an excellent reader. From the time he was a toddler I would read to him before bed. One of our favorites: Dr Seuss’s ABCs. From Aunt Annie’s Alligator to the Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz it teaches that letters represent sounds. He has gone on to read a huge number of books and is one of the top students in his school. “Sight reading” before phonics is like trying to run before you can walk.
“People do not understand child development in forming the basic worldview and moral character in childrenwhich is crucial to EVERYTHING. You will not care if your child is a math wizard if he thinks like Stalin and Hitler-moral relativists.”
I agree...I just didn’t want to try to take that hill, here.
“How do you read?”
Not nearly as good as my kids, but then I made sure that they were taught pure phonics. I got the diluted version, and then only because they were forced to teach me sounds due a bad speech problem. My sister wasn’t as lucky, and she’s angry to this day that they didn’t teach her phonics (and yes, it has hurt her career-wise).
Do you read phonetically?”
Yep, when I see a word like “etymology”...and when I was first learning, EVERY word looked like that. I had to think and sound them out, all of them - at the beginning.
As to how you were taught, I very much doubt that your mother didn’t have you sounding out words (in other words, you weren’t learn the shapes of words with no clue regarding sounds). I suspect the hard part was going back to the fundamental sounds because she likely didn’t teach you that...instead she started with the complete words and had you mentally break them into sounds.
LOL—I do tend to go all over the map.
It is just our WHOLE educational system HAS to be scrapped and start from the bottom with the parents and local control of EVERYTHING-—even deciding WHO can teach—and what books to use.
“If a child cannot adapt to one way of learning, I dont know why another one cant work instead. Who says there can be only one way to learn? Who says every child learns the same way?”
One of the things constantly pointed out by right-wing extremist critics of education (you know, the types that would prefer first graders learn math without calculators) is that the people pushing Whole Language and Fuzzy Math never seem to be able to provide any scientific studies to prove that their new system works better than what’s been around for hundreds of years. Now, if there is that data, I’m all ears.
“It is just our WHOLE educational system HAS to be scrapped and start from the bottom with the parents and local control of EVERYTHING-even deciding WHO can teachand what books to use.”
I certainly won’t argue that - I just wish that day would come.
“Not really, if it was, we wouldnt have the reading mess - after all, they do quite well learning their languages. No, the Asian languages are visual-based.”
No, the Chinese do not, on average, do well in learning to read and write their language. You would be surprised to discover how few Chinese out of 1.3 billion have the time and the memory to master more than a very basic grasp of the written language. In fact, the Chinese schools’ emphasis on memorization (driven by the language) is a major policy concern in China for various reasons.
No, “Asian” languages are not visually (ideographically) based. Mandarin and various dialects (e.g. Cantonese) used in China are (although pinyin is phonetic system that is used in China with children to help them learn characters - an admission that phonetic systems are easier to learn).
Vietnamese (a roman alphabetic system replaced Chinese characters as a result of the influence of French missionaries), Korean (Hangul), Thai (an indic system), Lao (an indic system), Cambodian (an indic system), Malay (always phonetic, but an indic system gave way to an arabic system which gave way to a roman system), and South Asian languages are not ideographic.
Japan uses a variety of systems jumbled together. The Kanji characters, borrowed from China in the 4th Century, are now combined with two syllabaries known as “Kana” ( Hirakana and Katakana). Romanji, which are phonetic characters, are also used.
By the way, If China ever went phonetic, the value of China’s human capital would soar. Until China changes politically and culturally, let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Given the Chinese people’s cultural attachment to the ideographs, the likelihood of a switch in the near to medium term future is remote.
This is absolutely true. I’m so depressed. My kid is ruined by this, even though I fought it all the way. It’s too late for him now.
Please see post 43 so that you don’t repeat this sort of thing any more. In particular, you need to stop thinking of “Asians” as an undifferentiated blob.
No. I didn’t sound out words when I was three. I learned words that she’d written up as flash cards. I learned them by sight, not by sound. She would go through the deck and couldn’t believe how fast I learned them. She had to keep adding to the deck because I was outpacing what she thought a child of three could learn.
She learned to do that, when she worked with disabled children at a school as a teacher’s helper. She wasn’t a school teacher herself. But, she’d seen other teachers do it with children, and she thought I could do it too. She was right.
Re: Some of the comments to you - see comment 43.
My apologies. It's easy for someone of European lineage to do. I would imagine that Asians likewise lump us European types into one big group for similar reasons. No offense was mean. Again, I apologize.
“This reads like the la leche league nazis who drove my wife into nearly fatal post partem depression. It’s sick.”
Dang breast nazis. Can’t stand ‘em.
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