Hooked On Whole Language, Even If It Don't Work
"It is safe to say that phonics and its related instructional components are no more popular in the public education establishment than they were five years ago. This despite the fact that the literacy levels of America's schoolchildren range from appallingly low to mediocre by both national and comparative international standards.
For example, nearly two-thirds of America's fourth- and eighth-graders failed to attain scores of proficient in reading in 2005. Poor and minority children fared even worse, with 84% unable to reach the proficiency level.
Despite all this less-than-encouraging data, efforts to teach the elements of reading in a direct and systematic fashion--the phonics method--are derided at most U.S. education schools as "cutting learning up into itty-bitty pieces," or "one-size-fits-all," or "the factory model," say Yvonne Siu-Runyan, an influential proponent of a competing theory of reading instruction known as "whole language." Whole language is favored by such influential entities as the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association, nearly the entire faculty at the prestigious Columbia Teachers College, and the vast majority of American elementary-school teachers, according to a 2002 poll conducted by the Manhattan Institute."
From the current issue of Weekly Standard's article "Read It And Weep."
MP: In my opinion, the biggest difference between phonics and whole language? Phonics works.