Skip to comments.When is "Drill and Kill" not "Drill and Kill"??
Posted on 12/12/2012 3:13:42 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
If there is one true cancer in the land of education, according to our Education Establishment, its the torture known as drill and kill.
Progressive educators always hated Drill and Kill. It hurts the child, we are told, and is the end of genuine learning.
For the last hundred years, our Education Establishment condemned the direct transmission of knowledge from teacher to student. These elite educators are constantly in a rage that students might be forced to prepare for a test in the traditional sense, that is, they know facts.
And yet, when it helps their agenda, the commissars will turn on a kopeck. Suddenly, 2 + 2 equals 5, or else. George Orwell, in his disquisitions on totalitarianism, explains that when power is the goal, Truth will often be tortured until it submits. 2 + 2, on another day, may equal 3.
Similarly, evil Drill and Kill turns out to be the most wonderful perfect answer to your childs literacy needs. Thank you, Big Brother.
There is one essential skill, and it is reading. However, from 1932 to the present, our Education Establishment embraced a defective method called Whole Word. The essence of this method is memorizing words as designs or sight-words. Not a few words but all the words--that was the dogma for 70 years. (Now the modified dogma is that children must start by memorizing 220 high-frequency words, such as see, it, is, was, run, see.)
And how are these words to be memorized? Theres only one way. You stare at them, draw them, and name them on flash cards, over and over, until your response is automatic. In short, Drill and Kill of the most drastic sort is the essential ingredient in learning to read, according to Whole Word theory.
So now Drill and Kill is a GOOD thing. In kindergarten and first-grade, and sometimes into second and third grade, kids are drilling and killing their little brains in an attempt to memorize the English language as graphic designs. Its difficult for smarter children, and impossible for average children.
So here we have a total about-face of the most blatant and dishonest kind. At this point, we might want to stop and marvel at the utter shamelessness of our Education Establishment. They are saying that 2 + 2 equals 5.
Here is a list of words that one might want to savor: obvious, patent, transparent, evident, manifest, unambiguous, open and shut, clear, straightforward, unequivocal, unmistakable.
All of these words describe the obvious duplicity and hoax of saying that Drill and Kill is lethal and then, when convenient, saying its delightful and exactly what kids must do.
The amount of Drill and Kill required to memorize even 100 sight-words is huge. A program now used in some schools aims, in the first year, for only 36 words. If the expert is saying that 36 is a years work, you know this is a very hard task indeed.
Meanwhile, the relatively modest amount of memorization required to learn American history, biology, etc. is quite doable. Its a good thing, even fun. Children learn a few facts each day and as the weeks and months go by, they become expert. But, as already noted, knowing facts is scorned, so our Education Establishments labels the whole business Drill and Kill, and tries to prejudice the community against it, thereby undercutting most academic progress.
It is unpleasant to contemplate the truth here. Drill and Kill, in the amount required to memorize the English language, is a hopeless project. One can only conclude that the Education Establishment never wanted children to be good readers, just as they didnt want them to know much factual information. So they prescribed, at each point, exactly the medicine that would do the most harm.
Orwell wrote about the ability, among the party elite, to accept contradictory facts. The party member has to show endless enthusiasm for whatever is said to be true. One week they love a country; the next week they hate the same country.
Unfortunately, our public school teachers are conditioned in the same way to hate Drill and Kill, and then to turn around and require Drill and Kill in the teaching of reading. Arguably, teachers are as much the victims of this perversity as students and parents.
But what about the professors at the top, the ruthless elite orchestrating all this turning on a kopeck? Surely they see the huge contradiction. Or are they such good party members that they actually dont realize that they are living in a dishonest, self-contradictory world?
RELATED ARTICLE 1: High-Frequency Lie: Some Words Can't Be Sounded Out http://brucedprice.hubpages.com/hub/High-Frequency-Lie-Some-Words-Cant-Be-Sounded-Out
RELATED ARTICLE 2: 42: Reading Resources http://www.improve-education.org/id65.html
RELATED VIDEO: The Biggest Crime in American History http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLyMplkuYdM
Problem is that most state education systems and/or counties haven’t recognized Whole Language as effective since the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. There are only a handful of states nationwide that even acknowledge Whole Language exisits in some of their school districts. Your rant may have been good two decades ago but not anymore. Phonics has been the method of teaching reading in most public and private school systems after it re-emerged in the late 1980’s. NIce rant, no beef, no facts!
Rote memorization is one of the quickest and most efficient methods of learning certain facts such as multiplication tables, German prepositions that only govern the dative case, etc.
I had hooked on Phonics when I was in elementary school, possibly a little into junior high. It helped, because I read my first sci-fi book when I was 11. Things like relativistic speeds and gravitational lensing are far above the average 11 year old.
I’ve said before that most of my education has taken place on this website, after having been done with all of my formal education. I’m far more intelligent now than I was when I was 18. Some of also is from realizing how much the world sucks, feeling the crushing weight of life and everything in it.
That didn't help me much at all when I was in school. My mind just isn't geared toward mathematics.
Balanced Literacy wasn’t even announced until 1999. So they stopped harping on the term Whole Language around 2000 but all the practice is still there TODAY in Guided Reading, etc. Plus, no matter the official nomenclature, they start the kids off on high-frequency words, which is what the article is about. Here is the latest wisdom from the web:
High-frequency words, often times referred to as sight words, are words that students encounter frequently in reading and writing. It is critical that readers and writers develop automatic recognition of these words. Comprehension begins to break down when students focus on trying to decode or sound out individual words. Learning to recognize high-frequency words by sight is critical to developing fluency in reading.
This quote and many others are in the referenced article:
“High-Frequency Lie: Some Words Can’t Be Sounded Out
Starting with sight-words means that you don’t really have phonics, although most schools will throw the word around.
Whole Word, which came before Whole Language, might be what hasn’t been “recognized.” Admittedly, the fads come and go differently in different parts of the country. But your chronology is not the main one.
Here’s a lament from a teacher to me last month about Guided Reading, which she refers to as “whole language.”
I too actually disdained the “whole word” method as well as rote math memory.
But then I had some life experience and the wisdom of my mother - a teacher in English and math, with life experience in the old days that apparently aren’t old enough per this article.
She told how when she was young that’s what you did, for a while - rote memory. THEN you got into the guts of why things worked. That is also how she would teach, if they were little ones. Life is sort of like that. Children see things happen, and then know what is normal - but they don’t necessarily understand WHY until later.
1932 is mentioned but McGuffey’s readers were all the rage 40 years prior. Rote memory is VERY old, not recent. Mind you we did much better as a nation until maybe 30-40 years ago. The problem isn’t memory, it’s behavior.
I’m now showing my son things. He’s not in school yet. I realized all these books - especially the CLASSICS - repeat words constantly, in patterns, so you can easily see and connect them to the sound if you show the child what you are reading.
The problem with “phonics” is the English language is a huge hodge-podge of different languages and rules, with a set of rules that doesn’t always apply. So starting with phonics can be tricky if the words don’t obey what the child thinks the alphabet sounds are. Words must be strictly picked.
Better to start with memorizing simple words that follow the rules. Then start what should be phonetic spellings then you can talk about all the many aberrations.
“So now Drill and Kill is a GOOD thing. In kindergarten and first-grade, and sometimes into second and third grade, kids are drilling and killing their little brains in an attempt to memorize the English language as graphic designs.”
Let me help here. Drill and Kill is JUST FINE when it prevents (or actually delays) real learning - in this case Phonics. The idea is to keep the parents and kids distracted until the kids are TOO OLD to be able to read fluently. Yes, they will, finally, learn phonics in 4th grade, but they will NEVER be nearly as good in reading as my kids (or anyone else’s) that learned the skill at age 3.
“One can only conclude that the Education Establishment never wanted children to be good readers...”
I can say this until I’m BLUE IN THE FACE, but most people, ON THIS SITE still will trust their local public school to teach their children to read.
It just sickens me.
RE: “Yes, they will, finally, learn phonics in 4th grade, but they will NEVER be nearly as good in reading as my kids (or anyone elses) that learned the skill at [a young] age.”
Yes, this is my sense of it. They do finally find the phonics inside the sight-words. But now they have a bit of schizophrenia in their cognitive skills, because their brains have TWO ways to attack a word. And you can’t know which works until you try one...then perhaps the other...But now a second or two has been wasted. Recreational reading is very fast, about 3, 4 or 5 words a second. Occasional small delays are going to prevent what most of us think of as normal fluency.
“Yes, this is my sense of it. They do finally find the phonics inside the sight-words. But now they have a bit of schizophrenia in their cognitive skills, because their brains have TWO ways to attack a word.”
EXACTLY. I’ve read that also. It’s criminal to confuse kids in that way...yet it’s per plan, without a doubt.
I may be behind the curve on this question, but I’ll throw it out anyway.
My boys are long out of the danger zone of public schooling. I recently heard from a business acquaintance that in addition to drilling on basic sight words, his children were being taught to write without using cursive technique at all.
According to him, all writing in all grades is now done in printed block letters to conform to what they see on the basic word flash cards as well as the “typeface” text on their computer monitors. He further said that he ran into a lot of flack from teachers when he taught his kids cursive at home and they attempted to use it at school.
I’d appreciate any insight you could give me on this matter.
I can tell you there has been a slow war against cursive for many decades. My brother, a lawyer, says secretaries show up looking for work who can only print their names.
Don Potter, a phonics expert, believes that learning to read is much more difficult without cursive.
But here’s the problem for the sight-word gang. Upper and lower case is already a big problem for the kids because “bike” and “BIKE” are quite different, as different as S and $. Then you add handwriting or script, and that’s three versions of each word that the kids have to memorize. It’s quite insane and makes Whole Word even more impossible than it was before. To eliminate this problem, so-called literacy experts quietly tried to drive cursive out of the schools, not because this was a good idea, but to save sight- words!
(Also, I believe, the schools slowly drove second languages out of the early grades, for the same exact reason. All the experts agree that children learn foreign languages most quickly. What do you know? Almost no public school teaches a second language at the elementary level.)
Forgot main point. The oncoming Common Core Curriculum has declared cursive obsolete and a waste of time.
This is just one more reason why everyone should be very suspicious of CCC.
I teach high school, Bruce.
Reading taught at the elementary level, from what I can discern is a hybrid of the old Whole Language and Phonics — and is a mess! A lot of students never do pick up necessary reading skills from this his or miss method and struggle with reading as the curriculum moves ahead into the “read to learn” phase.
It is no wonder that I see SO many 11th graders who read at a 4th -6th grade with limited vocabularies and who tell me they hate reading.
RE: “And is a mess!”
I think your description is generally right. The children don’t come along with more or less the same skill. They are spread out along a huge continuum from can’t-read-at-all to fluent. And these kids are all in the same classrooms together in the 6th, 8th, and 10th grades, often forced to work in cooperative groups.
And the schools design tests (so-called authentic assessment) that CONCEALS how little they can read. There is a lot of support now for Project-Based Learning. This is just another gimmick for hiding how illiterate and ignorant these kids are.
Our Education Establishment has a pure satanic genius for intellectual chaos. I’m right now working on an article about how EASY reading is— if it’s taught correctly.
A school principal in my county insists that her students will learn cursive no matter what anyone else wants. I guess she didn’t get the message. My state is going along with the Common Core Curriculum.
10,000 principals like that and we no longer have ed problems.
CCC, like ObamaCare and indeed Obama, may not be entirely revocable. But there may be many junctures when one can negotiate for a better deal.
I suspect it’s true.
I got pulled out for an hour of “gifted” instruction starting in kindergarten, and the teacher had a free hand on what she was allowed to teach. She was American born but had lived for several years in Spain and spoke proper Spanish fluently.
Thus, one of the primary things we got was Spanish, *before* Spanish was a pandering move to the illegal invaders. The vocabulary and grammar I was taught then has stuck with me flawlessly, and one of my high school teachers who’d also lived in Spain was astonished at how proper my accent and pronunciation were, compared to most who by then had been ruined with Mexican gabbling. He could always tell who she’d taught, and as far as I know he never guessed wrong, either.
Same teacher had a computer we could learn on back when that was extremely uncommon, and a giant shelf of books aimed at all literacy levels and genres; everything from actual children’s books about various jobs to “The Hobbit” and such.
She was forced out of the elementary level in favor of a slavish list follower by the time I was in fourth grade, and the classes became much less interesting until middle school. Guess who was teaching there? :-)
If everyone had the exposure to a second language the way I did, I really have little doubt there would be more fluency and less trepidation about the process. Doesn’t matter what language, as long as the person teaching is actually fluent and comfortable with it, preferably with a good accent also.
I was also reading before I was in school, and comfortable reading books geared for adults by second grade or so. Occasionally I had to have a foreign, dialect, or niche word explained to me, if I couldn’t look them up, but generally got by pretty well and reading has stayed a lifelong pleasure to me.
When I was that age, I (and I'm sure the rest of us were too) was actually reading and writing and doing the Readers Digest spelling and word games. That was just fun "accidental practice".
The only "accidental practice" the kids of today get is via "texting" or emails which use an entirey different vocabulary such as "ur", "lol", "omg". Just look at Twitter responses, some of them I have to study just to figure out whats being said......
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