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Sue Dickson is best known as the creator of Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, one of the most popular phonics programs.
Now in her 80s, she is still active as ever, pushing phonics however possible and refining a new approach.
Ups - Downs - Career - Lot - State
The ups and downs in her career tell us a lot about the sad state of American education. In her college's pre-teacher program, she was taught nothing about phonics. Not only that, but when she started to teach first grade, her superiors constantly emphasized their verdict that phonics is useless and even dangerous.
Sue Dickson recalls: "I was told that phonics doesn't work, that the English language is too complicated to be taught that way. I accepted that reasoning hook, line, and sinker. So, during my first two years as a teacher, I didn't use any phonics even though I had lots of kids in trouble."
Mother - Book - Rudolf - Flesch - Johnny
But in 1955, her mother bought a book by Rudolf Flesch called Why Johnny Can't Read. Dickson recalls, "At first I rejected his recommendations. After all, I was the one with the teaching degree. But my mother wouldn't stop. She followed me around the house reading from that book!"
"Finally, I decided I had to do something because I was losing whole groups of students through the cracks. I would give phonics a try. There was considerable apprehension, as my administrators were adamantly against it. They put a three-page memo in every teacher's mailbox warning us to stay away from phonics!"
Shock - Class - Test - Administrators - Cheating
Then came the big shock. Her class scored so high on the standardized test that these same administrators seemed about to accuse her of cheating. Instead, they offered her a summer job teaching reading to students who were at least three years below the national norm. She never went back to teaching "look and say." She knew that phonics...
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