Literacy Experts: Are They Ready To Apologize Yet? | 3/14/2018 | Bruce Deitrick Price
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“There is one question I’d really love to ask (One Heart!):

The people in charge of literacy in most English-speaking countries are literacy’s worst enemies. This counterintuitive turn-about has to be one of the planet’s more bizarre stories.

Experts - Method - Language - Teachers - Method

The official experts praise a method, often called Whole Language, that doesn’t work. They insist that young teachers use this useless method. The teachers in turn force their students to embrace the method, and they make the parents tolerate the method. That’s how you get a never-ending illiteracy crisis.

This twisted tale is beautifully illustrated in one teacher’s epiphany. Berys Dixon, an Australian housewife, raised children, went back to school, and became a teacher. She found that many things had changed, mainly, “The explicit teaching of phonics was abandoned.”

Berys - Parents - Words - Picture - Sound

Berys recalls: “I was to tell the parents, ‘Don’t sound the words out, you can’t sound them all out. This is what you have to do. Look at the picture, see what the first sound is, try a word. See if it makes sense’….If they’re really stuck, tell them what the word is.”

Try a word?! Isn’t this suggestion preposterous on the face of it? Trying out different words would make reading an endless process of guess and hope-you-get-lucky. Real reading is very fast. There is no guessing and luck about it.

Dixon - Everything - Professors - Results - Year

Dixon did everything her professors told her, even though the results were bad year after year.

One day, a parent complained that her young child couldn’t sound out the words in his home reader. Berys suppressed her doubts and confidently instructed the parent NOT to expect the child to sound out words. Instead, encourage him to look at the picture, read ahead, “have a guess,” etc., etc. Then if he still couldn’t get the word, just read it for him. All of this is bunk but Berys Dixon...
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