Friday, September 1, 2017

Promotion without mastering the 3R’s (Part 4 of 4)

We are born ignorant but we have to work hard to remain stupid. (Benjamin Franklin)
Many professors in LinkedIn indeed are working very hard.

There are many comments on parent’s responsibility to help educate children instead of leaving it to teachers. I do not want to get into this arena as it is very contentious and is not going to be useful to anyone. Suffice is to say that I believe it is unfair to blame parents.

Most of the parents of kids who studied with me in school cannot speak English at all. How in the world would they have been able to help their kids with their studies? My parents could speak a smattering of English but my mother, who spoke excellent Tamil, read Tamil books every day and that has influenced me, my siblings and my children. At bedtime my mother would read or sometimes just tell us stories she has read in Tamil.We all looked forward to bedtime stories.
My classmates and I have all learned to speak and write English, despite no involvement of parents in directly teaching us, BECAUSE our teachers were instructed by the British on Phonics and taught us the proper sounds of letters.

We spoke in Malay, Tamil or Chinese at home and learned Malay and English in school efficiently because of good teaching methods. BUT this is not the case today. Teachers today do not know that a majority of kids who leave school as illiterates are kids who have been confused by the teaching by teachers.

One teacher’s comment: “Teaching has become a thankless profession where it doesn't matter how hard and how long you spend preparing your lessons.”

I am sure most teachers take a lot of time to prepare lessons. However, what teachers do not realize is that no amount of preparation for kids in grade 2 and upwards is going to help kids who have disengaged from learning to read as early as in grade one. Without the first R it is almost impossible to attain the other 2 R’s.

Tell me, anyone at all, how does a parent’s involvement help a kid to read when teachers do not accept the fact that a majority of kids who leave school as illiterates are kids who had disengaged from learning to read in grade one?

Let us not get into a contentious argument of other kids who do not do their work for myriad of other reasons. This will be a topic for another day.

I like to quote one of the educators who said the following in the post that we have been talking about:

“If we do it right the first time, we do not need to go "back to basics". That would require us to be much more scientific in our approaches to teaching and learning. Unfortunately we are not paying attention to the research that provides some of the answers for basic literacy skill development. For 40 years, I have mended the pieces of broken children back together using the existing research. TheFollow-Through Project is one major example, but almost no-one is familiar with it. I have used it to build a careerand a company, to do more research, to publish books and to provide my clients with a money-back guarantee that parents or others can understand and confirm. It's time for teachers to learn from What Works, or we will get to relive it again.”

Why are we not doing it right the first time? All we need teachers to do is to understand what this teacher, Michael Maloney is saying. This is exactly what I am trying to do after having learned from my students. 

Additional notes from COTC that I have shared previously:

An accumulating body of evidence shows that early childhood interventions are more effective than interventions that come later in life. Remedying early disadvantages at later ages is costly, and often prohibitively so. This is because of the dynamic nature of the human skill formation process. Skill begets skill; learning begets learning. Early disadvantage, if left untouched, leads to academic and social difficulties in later years. Advantages accumulate; so do disadvantages.  
Substantial research carried out and supported by NICHD indicates clearly that without this systematic and intensive approach to early intervention, the majority of at-risk readers rarely catch up. Failure to read by 9 years of age portends a lifetime of illiteracy for at least 70 percent of struggling readers (Shaywitz, 2003).
In fact, in the first few years of life the brain starts to build a network of connections, or synapses. During this time, the infant's brain is setting the building blocks for future learning. These stages of development are sometimes referred to as sensitive periods, when learning is easier. Language development, for example, is acquired much more quickly in the first 5 years of life.
No question that the price tag is hundreds of billions of dollars; both to support the normal acquisition of reading and certainly to deal with the consequences of reading failure.

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