Sunday, October 15, 2023

Ignorance and arrogance (Part 1)


On September 26, 2023, I read the following article by Marion Blank

Two Thirds of American Kids Can’t Read Fluently. LINK

Here are some extracts and my comments:

Phonics may be a popular way to teach reading, but it fails too many children.

This is another disinformation spread by the Balanced Literacy proponents that has its roots in Whole Language (WL) instruction that emerged in the 1970s.

The level of arrogance attached to ignorance is unbearable because it is rooted in smug satisfaction with being isolated from the facts of the case.

Before accepting what the author of the above article is saying we need to ask ourselves whether whole language methods were used at any period between 1972 and 2021. If so, why is the graph on reading proficiency flat from 1972 to 2021?

The article further states the following:

Biennial testing through NAEP consistently shows that two thirds of U.S. children are unable to read with proficiency. An astounding 40 percent are essentially nonreaders. Most are taught through phonics—a system of instruction based on sounding out letters that is mandated in at least 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Yes, 2/3 of U.S. children have been unable to read with proficiency since 1972. During this period from 1972 to 2021, there were periods when whole language was the method used to teach kids to read. The statement ‘most are taught through phonics’ is, to say the least, misleading.

Here is another misleading statement:

The phonics method of converting each letter to a particular sound is totally unsuited to the English language.

The author of the article is Marion Blank who is the creator of the Reading Kingdom program, the creator and former director of the A Light on Literacy program at Columbia University in New York. It is obvious that her article is skewed to support her products and not because she wants to reduce illiteracy.

I will challenge her that it is not the letters and the sounds correspondence that is the problem but the teaching of sounds of letters with extraneous sounds.

A statement from the article I can agree with is:

‘Whole language presents children with complete books. Its premise is that learning to read, like learning to speak, comes naturally via exposure to good material.’

Yes, I can agree with that. My first student was taught this way as I did not know phonics. We can teach any kid to read just by sitting beside us and reading to them while they watch the words. The brain is capable of figuring out how to read. The phonics proponents do not agree with this because they too walk with blinkers.

Having said the above, it does not mean one should not teach phonics.I am a centrist, anything that works to get a child to read is acceptable to me.

To be continued….

No comments: