Friday, April 29, 2022

Kathy Rastle's Logical Fallacy


@Kathy_Rastle’s Twitter profile says:

Professor of Psychology, Language & Reading Research, Editor J. Memory & Language, President, Experimental Psychology Society

And she has 4,615 Followers

Kathy Rastle and londonjohn tweeted the following:

Londonjohn @londonjohn9 Apr 23 @Kathy_Rastle

 From my experience of teaching hundreds of struggling pupils to read, I've seen they can deal with whole words in sentences as, or even before they receive phonics. Why do you say phonics is the starter motor for reading?

Kathy Rastle @Kathy_Rastle Replying to  @londonjohn9 and @Helen_Amass

English vocabulary is too large for memorisation to be viable. Analysis by @op_ti_ma found over 20,000 unique words in real books for 5-7 year olds. Most can be decoded by learning 58 GPCs and 60 “tricky” words. Phonics provides tools to begin to read independently.

Londonjohn @londonjohn9 Apr 26 Replying to @Kathy_Rastle @Helen_Amass and @op_ti_ma

But how are these 20,000+ words read automatically (over time) for fluent reading? This is really important and I do expect you to be able to give answer Kathy.

I believe that it is these fallacious Tweets by educators like Kathy Rastle that mislead many teachers and parents into believing whatever the educators write. I believe these educators should be more judicious with what they write on social media.

Doesn’t Kathy know that no one needs to memorise thousands of words? This appears to be a ploy by SSP and SoR proponents.

I have said that no one knows how a child learns to read. I teach phonics using word families so, I am a phonics proponent. However, unlike SSP and SoR proponents, I also teach kids to memorise the Dolch (HFW) words.  Once my students have learned to decode I teach them how to use context clues; patterns and analogies.

The question at hand is, if we do not learn phonics will we have to memorise thousands of words?

For a kid who has just started to read and finds that the passage contains many unfamiliar words the  best thing for the kid is for an adult to read the text to him. Another strategy, if the child can understand most of the words is to read using analogy. This will be making use of what is already known to the kid.

I ask myself how my first student learnt to read. I did not teach him phonics and every day for 6 days a week I read to him and made him read back to me sentence by sentence. After a few months he was able to read to me. When we came to an unfamiliar word I would simply read it to him. How did he learn to read? It has to be through patterns and analogies. I believe kids master phonics as a result of reading. Phonics is not a prerequisite for reading.

By reading by analogy I mean all or part of the unknown word is compared with all or part of words that are already known.

Readers like us have a store of syllabic information in words that we have already learnt.

Do listen to the two university students in my blog post here. How were they able to read the non words I extracted from Dr. David Kilpatrick’s book? Did their brain contain pronunciation for meaningless letter sequences?

A kid having learned words such as bat, cat, hat, mat, pat comes across an unfamiliar word such as batch and I read it to him, would he be able to read the words catch, hatch, match and patch? Of course he will. The mind thrives on pattern and analogies.

The more experience the kid has in reading the more he will learn new words by patterns and analogies.

The more he recognises words, the more easily he will be able to understand phonic correspondences to identify new words by analogy.

Having learned words, the mind is capable of reading unfamiliar words by combining parts or whole of different words.

I looked at the online dictionary for words starting with ‘con’ and there are hundreds of words starting with 4 letter words to 15 letter words.

I picked a word at random – confer and say someone reads this unfamiliar word to me and:

If I have the word cave in my vocabulary, will I be able to read an unfamiliar word concave?

If I know the word text will I be able to read the unfamiliar word context?

 If I know the word sister will I be able to read the unfamiliar word consist?


Having been told how to read just one word – confer - I am now able to combine with other words I already have in my vocabulary. The mind will be able to read thousands of unfamiliar words just by patterns and analogies.

So, SSP and SoR proponents should stop this nonsense about kids having to memorise thousands of words if they do not learn phonics.

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