Skip to comments."Rudolf Flesch Rules the World of Reading"
Posted on 02/26/2010 3:00:57 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
To save the country, we first have to save the public schools. Doing this requires that we save reading, the one essential skill.
March, 2010, is the 55th anniversary of Why Johnny Cant Read. This book is just as hot now as it was a half-century ago, because our obtuse Education Establishment insists on using sight-words (or Dolch words) to teach reading. This is the phony method that Flesch exposed and explained in his book.
Rudolf Flesch Rules the World of Reading gives a quick update on why this book is so hugely important.
Maybe you already know all this. That still leaves millions of teachers, parents, and professors of education who dont seem to know anything. PLEASE pass this article along to everybody who is mis-educating children.
--- Late news: I just got a patronizing letter from a genuine Professor of Education, via CanadaFreePress, pushing hard for the Dolch words and demanding to know: "Why would you want a child to look at the word "cat" and say to herself, "cuh - aaa - tuh" and for "dog" say "duh - oww - guh."?
You see? They haven't changed their tune in 75 years. That's what the country is up against.
(Excerpt) Read more at canadafreepress.com ...
I read “Why Johnny Can’t Read” and then taught my son and daughter to read when they were 4 or 5 using Sam Blumenfeld’s Alphaphonics. It was one of the best things I’d ever done as a parent, I believe. He’s a remarkable educator. I love his philosophy.
We use Spell to Write and Read and we love it! I love Wanda Sanseri’s Oregon Senate Speech.
Because once the kid gets the hang of that (and a few other letters of our fine phonetic alphabet), she can come up on words like "catastrophic" and "dogmatism" and get them recognizably right the first time.
The education establishment's rejection of phonics has always seemed to me a glaring symbol of its general wrong-headedness. America has become in large part an illiterate society thanks to the "educators."
But for a child reading their first book, sounding out a word works like MAGIC because the child finds he/she almost always knows the word after sounding it out. He/she memorizes that word and maybe never has to sound it out again. When you are learning to read this is the way to do it. You need very little help. Just give a kid the rules for sounding out words and hand them a pile of books with words that they will recognize once they pronounce them.
True, but obtaining "sight reader" capability without learning phonics first is like an infant trying to walk without having crawled.
I agree. Read the rest of my post again and that should be clear - but maybe it wasn't.
People like you and I who learned to read with phonics don't use it much anymore. But we do use it for words we don't immediately recognize. That's not the way it was when we were learning to read. Then every word was new and we had to apply our phonics knowledge to figure out each and every word. Slow and painful but it works every time. And pretty soon you don't have to sound out every word. You know those words by sight.
That system works. Skipping the phonics part doesn't work.
My child could not read until he was 12. He was in all the special reading programs for the district, and I was badgering the teachers. One of them said to me in exasperation, “You just have to accept your child will never read beyond a 4th grade level, at best!”
So I pulled him out of school, and began to homeschool. I was a pioneer at it, and took great grief.
I had him reading in a week with The Natural Way to Reading by Stevenson. Basically, it turned everything teachers believe inside out. For instance, sound words out starting at the INSIDE vowel (easier to meld the sounds - the first one says its name, the second must shut up. Use cards to cover the first letter of the word.). Start with long vowel words, not short ones (easier for kids to remember vowel sounds.) NO PICTURES. (Teachers say kids need them for context, and to guess - but we don’t want them to guess! We want them to read!).
Such simple concepts, but radically different than what the district used, and when we got results, the district kept telling me I was doing it all wrong! (But they were happy to see him reading.)
Now he reads at college level.
My reading masters from UVA is based largely on the work of Flesch and Henderson (a later ground breaking pioneer)
A quirky bit of history. Henderson was scheduled to meet with Marie Clay from New Zealand to discuss his concerns with her new method of teaching reading. Unfortunately, two weeks before he was to go, he was diagnosed with cancer and never made the trip and later died from his cancer.
Not too long afterwards, Marie Clay released the “Whole Language” method, which has, IMO, done more damage to the process of teaching reading than any other philosophy.
What might have been huh?
Actually, I was agreeing with you. I just wanted to make the point that there was a hard and fast (and necessary) relationship between phonics and "look-say". Some people can master "look/say" directly, but the vast majority cannot, as witnessed by our current abysmal track record of literacy.
People though so hate phonics because it requires practice that they would rather guess perpetually at all they see. Reading is just not for most people.
So, that is what schools are for. The biggest BS that the "ed biz" has propagated is the "drill is bad". Drill is NECESSARY to develop ANY skill.
And as to the notion that "reading is just not for most people" note that before WWI, the US had a 90+% literacy rate.
"Kenneth Lockridge's study of literacy in colonial New England is relevant here. Lockridge found that, in 1660, 60 percent of New England males signed their wills; it was 70 percent in 1710, 85 percent in 1760, and 90 percent by 1790. He estimates that half of those unable to sign wills could read. Thus, there was practically universal adult male literacy in New England by 1790."
THE REVOLUTION IN AMERICAN JOURNALISM IN THE AGE OF EGALITARIANISM: THE PENNY PRESS
Note that while this only applies to males, but since women are historically better at verbal tasks than men, I would say that the potential capacity for literacy is near 100%.
The low literacy rates today are a massive indictment of the "education professionals", who appear to be "lack of education professionals".
“Such simple concepts, but radically different than what the district used, and when we got results, the district kept telling me I was doing it all wrong!”
Ha Ha Ha. That is so funny! I would rather get results the “wrong way” than to have an illiterate child taught the “right way”. Imbeciles. No wonder they couldn’t teach your child to read!
Wow that is very interesting!
Ping for the homeschoolers.
They kept trying to do whole language with my son, which just frustrated and upset him.
When I started the Stevenson method (he was almost 12), by the end of the first night, his eyes were shining in a way I’ll never forget. And he said, “Mom, is THAT how you do it? Is THAT how you read?”
He’d gotten the idea that over years the PS never gave him. In one night. It brings tears to my eyes remembering it now.
A note about “drill is bad.”
Whole-Word is a method that require a huge amount of writing and drill—which is how the Chinese learn their ideograms.
But this method is pushed here by so-called educators who absolutely condemn writing and drill! So there is a DOUBLE OBSTACLE: the great difficulty of memorizing English words as designs; PLUS the fact that the school system does not then require the discipline to carry the plan through.
In sum, illiteracy is twice guaranteed.
Unfortunately true. Today's "educators" have a LOT to answer for.
I’ve seen that look dozens of times in the eyes of the 6th graders I get that believe that can’t read and then amazingly realize that when taught in the way that makes sense....they can.
Good for you for finding a method that worked for your son.
Yep....I heard that story from two different sources while finishing my masters. The reading professors at UVA are very anti Whole Word and have made great strides in pushing their balanced approach.
In fact, all public schools in VA use the PALS testing and materials, provided by UVA. Look up PALS some time to see what they have put together. It is avaialable to anyone
However, as another funny observation...I don’t know if you know that in the education world the more liberal you are, the more likely you are to endorse Whole Language. Conversely, conservatives are seen to support phonics. The professors at UVA involved with Reading First, Pals, and the specific teaching of balanced literacy with emphasis on phonics. So now the Curry school of education has been accused of being “Right-Wing Bigots,” “Conservative CaveMen,” “in lock step with the Radical right” and “in league with the Christian schools” by Whole Language liberals. Trust me, they are anything BUT conservative politically and have been very uncomfortable with the labels thrown at them. I had an in-depth conversation with one of the big-whigs at the Curry Dept. of Ed about how it felt to be broad-brushed.....Hm....... things that make you think huh?