Skip to comments.“Balanced Literacy“ -- Unbalanced and Unhinged
Posted on 01/09/2012 2:37:06 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
[MORE ABOUT READING, SPECIFICALLY, THAT SO-CALLED BALANCED LITERACY IS ANOTHER CHAPTER IN THE LONG-RUNNING HOAX:]
So heres the deal. The same people who lied to us about reading for 70 years now want us to believe they are finally telling the truth.
They said that English isnt phonetic, that children dont need the alphabet and the sounds, that children need only to look at words and memorize the shapes. All this was utter nonsense.
They further said that if children didnt recognize a word (which they typically didnt as its hard work to memorize a word by its shape), they should look for a picture clue, they should guess, they should skip ahead, they should figure out the words from context. Oh, there was a big list of things that kids should do because, in reality, they didnt know how to read. Again, all this was utter nonsense.
But now, after all these lies and all those brutal painful decades when our public schools were churning out 50 million functional illiterates, well, we should just forget all that. We should forgive all that! And now we should believe that the same people who systematically caused all that destruction have finally got reading figured out. Really?!?
Isnt this like the child molester who says he is no longer interested in children? Do we believe him? Why, when our so-called experts were wrong all that time, should we believe that they are right now?
And you know whats really funny, as in bizarre? They dont have any new ideas or new answers. They want to go on using their old, useless ideas. But now the bad ideas are to be mixed in with good ideas; and they call this combo Balanced Literacy. Suppose you have some good water and dirty water, and you mix them together. Do you now have Balanced Water? No, you have dirty water.
In Balanced Literacy, our Education Establishment says, okay, we wont try to exclude all phonics. Sure, chatter away about phonemic awareness and that phonics stuff. But kids in the early grades have to memorize their sight-words JUST LIKE BEFORE.
So right there, at the threshold of learning, literacy, and knowledge, the kids waste a few years trying to memorize several hundred sight-words (aka high-frequency words). Thats the sick essence of Balanced Literacy.
Meanwhile, the rest of a childs education (remember Geography, Science, History, all that?) will be on hold because it is difficult to read about Pilgrims coming to the New World when you are still trying to memorize the shapes of SEE, THEN, IT, SOME, ON, AND, FOR, THE, LOOK, RUN, etc.
Meanwhile again, sight-word instruction often results in a permanent crippling of the childs cognitive processes. That is, the child sees a word and tries to find the shape IN HIS MEMORY, as opposed to saying the sounds that the shapes stand for.
If this whole-word tendency dominates -- and note that the child is simply doing what he was told to do -- this child will rarely become a fluent reader. Such a child will usually become what is called a functional illiterate. Such children typically memorize 100 to 1000 sight-words, and that will be the extent of their reading. Even if they try to move on to phonetic reading, their brains will often remain trapped in sight-word guessing games.
And here comes the punch line. If anybody dares to question these failed ideas, a principal will say, as if speaking of a religious doctrine: We believe in a balanced approach, implying by the word balanced that the school is now embarked on a course of reason, intelligence, enlightenment, etc.
Its precisely the phrase a balanced approach--given that the damage now done in the early grades is much the same as it was during the previous half-century--that is most offensive. What could be more unbalanced? Surely these people know their own horrible track record. So now, for trying to give us the same damaged goods, surely we must suspect some degree of diminished reason. Here is an idea that has failed millions of times. If you keep pushing it, possibly its because you are yourself unbalanced and indeed unhinged.
Balanced Literacy can be understood best as a strategic retreat by our Education Establishment. They dont want to confess their sins. So they just turn down a new road.
Theres another way to understand Balanced Literacy: a public relations dodge. The schools say such soothing things as: We selected the best from all methods; We believe in teaching to each students strengths; and We practice a balanced approach.
Who could be against that? Only everybody, if you want to save the next generation of kids.
Now, this article is somewhat sharply stated. Its important to make parents confront what is going on in their schools. Really look at what is being taught and what exactly the child is expected to do. All so-called sight-words can be taught phonetically. Why bother with an unnecessary detour that will serve only to retard progress?
The best solution is that parents, when their children are two, three or four, start teaching them the alphabet and the sounds. If you let your child go to a public school where Balanced Literacy is taught, your child may very well be an inferior reader forever.
(Note to nation: teach children to read early. See 54: Preemptive Reading for how to start the process. On the writers site Improve-Education.org...A new article titled 61: Early Literacy Pack deals with assists that might accelerate learning to read.)
(The YouTube video shows how false reading theory fits into a larger pattern. Less than 4 minutes.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLyMplkuYdM
[THAT'S ENTIRE ARTICLE AS IT APPEARS ON RANTRAVE.COM]
THANK YOU AND YOUR CAPS-LOCK KEY IS STUCK.
Very late to the party. Balanced Lit is at least ten years old and has already been judged a fraud by real educators (like me). There’s very little balance.Lip service is paid to phonics and reading matter is student chosen based on levels. The teacher needs to be very familiar with any number of works if she is to assess and guide the reader. That’s functionally impossible, so teacher assessment and input is also functionally impossible.
It works like magic.
Maybe using all caps makes it easier for people to sight-read the words. :=)
Some people think if you can read out loud, you're functional.
“The best solution is that parents, when their children are two, three or four, start teaching them the alphabet and the sounds.
It works like magic.”
Yes, indeed, it does. AND you don’t need 4 wasted years in a school of Ed to do it (plus “in service training” and an M.Ed.).
That is exactly why it isn’t done in government schools. Publishers need curriculum churn; the imbeciles who call themselves “professors” of education need to make themselves feel important by inventing bogus new learning “strategies”, and the unions love the fact that the status quo creates make-work jobs for “reading specialists” and a host of other parasites.
No parent should have his children in government schools - and the academic failure of the schools is the LEAST of the reasons. (And - to the usual suspects - don’t bother posting that “our schools are different”. They aren’t in any way that matters morally, spiritually, or intellectually.)
Colleges of Education where enthusiasms like “whole language” a.k.a. “look-say” in reading and “discovery learning” as a replacement for (not supplement to) learning math facts come from are the real source of rot in American K-12 education. Not the teachers unions, not the U.S. Department of Education, though these have abetted them in their destruction. Yet the legislatures of almost all of the several states have given a monopoly to colleges of education to produce certified teachers (or qualified or licensed or whatever the term used in the given state). Until those monopolies are broken, neither breaking the teachers union nor abolishing the U.S. Dept. of Ed, nor throwing more money at K-12 education will have any beneficial effect.
As to English not being phonetic, it is not. At least not in the strong sense that Russian (in Cyrillic) or Korean (in written in hangul) are, in which there is an exact one-to-one correspondence between the symbol strings and the sounds they represent. The words ocean, women, machine and mine suffice to demonstrate this. (The old gag spelling of “fish” as “ghoti” — gh as in tough, o as in women, ti as in nation — was a jocular way of making the point.)
Nonetheless, the notion that English reading is best taught by pretending that English words are pictograms to be memorized is absurd and has baleful consequences for literacy. It is another idea of the sort Orwell characterized as “so stupid only an intellectual could believe it.”
I taught all three of my children to read before they went to school with the aid of a book I made illustrating all the sounds of English with all the various spellings organized by the letter which began the most commonly used spelling of the sound. (For instance, ship and ocean depicted together, with the words written out and the letters making the “sh” sound underlined. Pictures of a zebra and a rose, labeled with the words with the z and s underlined, illustrating spellings of the “z” sound, and the like.)
Here’s why this article got written now. An excellent teacher in Brooklyn, who prefers to use Sing, Spell, Read, Write, sent me this note last week:
“...just got out of a meeting with my supervisor who said, We like balanced approaches. I hate that argument, have to think of a snappy reply to that stupidity. The basal readers call themselves balanced.”
Clearly a damsel in distress. I wanted to provide the sort of snappy reply that would make the supervisor have a rude awakening.
Good One!!! Maybe I actually know the dumb admin. Ran across loads of them in 25+ years in the NYC schools.
My little sister with no college sent both her kids to kindergarten being able to read . They were reading 5th grade level before their 1st day of school.
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