Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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.

4 Comments:

At 7/10/2007 10:07 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hmmm, "the prestigious Columbia Teachers College", according to whom and what are the credentials, the REAL credentials of the people who make that claim?

Back in '92 Dr. Thomas Sowell wrote the book Inside American Education ...

It wasn't pretty...

Well according to the National Center for Education Statistics (are those folks qualified to pass judgement?) reading scores for garde 4 and grade 8 seem worse than abysmal ...

Linda Schrock Taylor says: Despite the money spent, and despite the promises of accomplishment and accountability: standards, benchmarks, goals, test scores, graduation exams – the mumble-jumble cannot disguise the fact that a huge percentage of Americans have been and are being dumbed down

I don't think Dr. Sowell would be suprised...

 
At 7/10/2007 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The brain uses two (proven) separate centers for understanding words. Known short words are comprehended as a whole. Unknown or long words are often comprehended phonetically.

My suspicion is that phonics helps you learn whole words, but that some children may benefit from a mixture of phonics and whole word. I find it difficult to believe that a child unfamiliar with most words could do well without some phonics.

 
At 7/11/2007 8:35 AM, Anonymous bob wright said...

Friends of mine in Dallas had a child who wasn't learning to read and was labeled "LD" by the school because of this supposed inability to learn.

The school was using the whole word method to teach reading.

Since the child's ability to read had been identified as "broken", the child was sent to the LD class to be "fixed."

The LD teacher used phonics to fix the child.

Seems like the school could have cut out the middle man and just used phonics from the beginning.

 
At 7/23/2007 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, Hear....or is it Here, Here?!

 

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