Skip to comments.Phonics Explained, Whole Word Exposed....in 1958
Posted on 11/16/2010 3:16:10 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
Think of this as a nice little time capsule from 50+ years ago....A review of "Reading: Chaos and Cure" just placed on Amazon:
A wonderful and informative book I can heartily recommend to any parent or teacher. You learn a great deal about reading, for example, why Sight Words are a hoax, why phonics works. The authors state: "It is absurdly easy to teach a child to read with the proper method. Most of the children in America could be taught in a few weeks or months at the age of five. We shall tell you about various schools, now functioning, where a problem reader is virtually unheard of." Take that, International Reading Association. Take that, International Dyslexia Association.
The book gives us historical perspective on the reading crisis. The book appeared three years after Rudolf Flesch's "Why Johnny Can't Read." We learn about the abuse heaped on Flesch, the many forces arrayed against phonics, and (what struck me as most poignant) the continuing optimism of the authors that the "educationists" would soon have to admit their mistake.
Remember that Whole Word was massively introduced circa 1932, about 25 years before this book appeared. In that fairly brief span, the Education Establishment subverted the methods used to teach reading and thereby sabotaged education generally.
The authors (Sibyl Terman and Charles Walcutt) sum up our dire straits in 1958:
"Because they have not successfully taught reading the educationists have by way of compensation altered the curriculum and indeed the whole concept of education to maintain schools in which, year by year, less use has been made of reading. It has come to a point where a young man can graduate from many of our major high schools, with superior grades, who not only cannot read successfully but also has not been called upon to do substantial reading in any subject. Meanwhile the educational specialists rationalize. They now affirm that about one-third of our youth -- and, they emphasize, often youth of superior intelligence -- are congenitally unable to master the printed word. They have elaborated a program of `life adjustment' which begins with the assumption that, because more than half of our youth will not enter professions where learning and prosperity go hand in hand, these destined unfortunates should not be given the sort of liberal education that will make them unhappy with their modest lives. Public school administrators have gone so far as to assert that they look hopefully for the day when learning to read will not be considered more important than learning to sew or skate."
The authors, like Flesch, were wrong. Good sense did not prevail. Our Education Establishment dug in, doubled down, and beat the heck out of these cockeyed optimists.
From 1958 to 1998, Whole Word was propped up by some of the worst political hacks imaginable. The result was 50,000,000 functional illiterates. All this despite lucid books, such as this one, explaining every detail of Whole Word's failure.
The authors (brother and sister) seem like very nice people. They evidently traveled a great deal, to report on reading in different states, cities and school systems. The book includes a full phonics program.
For more reviews of books about education, Google "36 Important Books About Education," soon to go to 40!
We need a rational alphabet for the English language.
Sounds really interesting.
Can someone read this to me?
Semitic languages have been getting along quite well doing that for upwards of 5,000 years!.
Chinese takes it considerably further, as did the first written language in history, known as Sumerian it is an hieroglyph based written language that uses stylized images created with cuneiform wedges.
If you provide too much image you end up with unintelligible writing.
That's the reading part ~ now, how to learn to read? That's a wholly different topic. There you have to use phonics with some, whole word with others, and with others NOTHING AT ALL. I simply learned to read on my own and was always years ahead of the other kids. This started when i was 3 or 4 years of age.
Too true. I went to a wonderful public school that taught reading by the phonics method, and the entire student body turned into a bunch of ravenous readers before they were six. When each of my children started school I begged and pleaded for our present school system to teach my children with phonics and was contemptuously refused. As a single mother I could not afford to put my kids in some private school that would have taught phonics, nor could I stay home and homeschool them, so I just tried to teach them phonics at night. Unfortunately the school system really sabotaged my efforts, undermining the phonics instruction by making them memorize sight words. The administrators and teachers thought I was nuts because their research showed their method was best. Uh-huh.
Today neither child (mostly grown up now) is an enthusiastic reader. Both have terrible spelling, punctuation, and grammar. They think books are a boring waste of time though they see me reading enthusiastically and though I’ve tried to show them how books extend the things they’re interested in. We have a library with probably over a thousand books in it, but they never pick up a volume.
Please don’t lecture me about what I should have done a dozen years ago. I fought the good fight to the extent an exhausted single mom could fight without any support from the other parents.
what we need is to get the liberals that infest our ed.system out, stop using the kids in stupid experiments to create new lib robots and go back to the pre-1950 way of teaching reading - phonics, which is how you teach dyslexics to read, or any 3 year old. 1 problem, when your kids is so board in class, they may just grab a book and ignore the current lesson. I actually had to get my son’s school to stop letting him read in class to try to get him to pay attention.
Interestingly, the authors deal with this very question to an unusual degree, insisting that English is actually much more rational than many people think.
Always keep in mind that, by way of defending the indefensible, Whole Word, the Education Establishment filled the air with what was basically anti-English propaganda. English is just so crazy, we were told for decades, kids have no choice but to memorize the entire language word by word!!!
This is the absolute truth. Which is why I homeschooled my age five son and he learned to read above fifth grade level after only a month of phonics practice.
I didn’t want to take any chances with my niece. I bought Zig Engelmann’s “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and gave it to my sister. They took their time but my 6 year old niece is in first grade and can read chapter books. My sister decided to use it with her 4 year old and is halfway finished. Her friend was so impressed that she is doing it with her own 4 year old daughter, as well.
I went to Catholic school. We were taught to read by phonics in 1961. The name of the book was “Breaking the Sound Barrier”. We learned how to sound out words. The reading scores at my grammar school left the public schools in the dust.
My niece was unable to read in second grade due to dismal California schools. She had been labeled as with a learning disability.
Over the summer my sister sent her to us in Phoenix for a crash course in phonics taught by my wife, who is a school teacher. After a few weeks, my niece was excited about reading the newspaper comics to me. Without the extra help she would have been left behind.
You just can’t talk to the “whole word” people. They will not listen to sense.
Where’s the link?
i am not a teacher, yet i have taught three kids at three different ages to read using phonics... it is not rocket science... so glad i learned to read using phonics... the sad thing is—back in the early to mid-70s—kids in my class who didn’t pick up reading as easily were taught using the whole-word method... so they had two things going against them... not readily inclined toward reading... being taught using an inferior method...
I went to Amazon there is no pic.
So I went here:
Still no pic but book is for sale.
They still had “Dick and Jane” books that my parents remembered from their schooldays in the 1940s (a few updates, not many), and I had that read through double-quick, and on to the more advanced books in the school library.
I wish I could remember which book it was— at least 3/4 inch thick— that I wanted to check out, and the librarian said I shouldn't because I wouldn't be able to read it. I had to tell her I had read half of it while sitting in the library and was only checking it out because it was time to leave...
Good program. Too bad my wife and I can't have children; I'd be pleased to have them learn to read as I did.
Helps with spelling, too. If you can read and write “dog” (a canine), “mat” (a small floor covering) and “tic” (a small twitch), then “dogmatic” (insistent upon certain ideas) is literally child's play.
It’s my opinion that the complexity of English makes for a more complex mind.
Just don’t ask me to explain the failure of the Roman Numeral System, thank you.
Siegfried Engelmann is one of my heroes.
I’ve heard many good things about his “100 Easy Lessons” book. The worst thing you hear is that it goes slowly. But many kids actually prefer this.
Amazon has many reviews of this book.
This book is a great find.
Using a phonics-based approach, virtually any child can be taught to read in a few weeks, and to read at a relatively sophisticated level in a year, if you are willing to give you child 20-30 minutes a day consistently. This is why the average homeschooled child reads at the 89th percentile (See the results of Dr. Brian Ray’s peer-reviewed study at www.NHERI.org).
Government schools are institutionalized child abuse and need to be closed. All of them; no exceptions (not even your “really different” suburban schools).
My older brother and sister were caught in the whole word BS and were handicapped in their reading. Fortunately I had a phonics based reading program. However when my kids were in primary school the whole reading BS was back even after being discredited for decades. Fortunately my kids had a first grade teacher who bucked the trend and still taught them phonics.
Ping for postponed perusal.
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