Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hooked on phonics -- again

Malkin Dare wrote an excellent, comprehensive opinion piece in The Toronto Star today about phonics. She writes:

"From time to time, older people ask me why so many children are failing to learn to read these days.... they tell me, when they went to school, virtually everyone in their class learned to read." (That was in a time when special ed teachers, disability testing, and drugs were few and far between. That was a time when phonics was used.)

She ends her piece with:

"Until this situation changes [from using the Balanced Literacy method to using phonics], we can continue to expect 42 percent of adult Canadians to lack the literacy skills considered necessary to cope in modern society."

42 percent?! Holy cow! Is that right? Apparently StatsCan has shown a decline in literacy scores among those aged 16 to 25 between 1994 and 2003. We are an evolving society, whose members rely heavily on being able to read (and to write would be good too!) in order to succeed, yet our education system is failing us in continuing to use methods that do not work. Trying to get public educators to understand that phonics works is like a kid banging his head against the school's brick wall. No wonder so many are turning to private schools or home schooling -- parents want to ensure their children can read, write, and do arithmetic. Without those three skills, their children will be lost in our information society. Why does the public education system not get this?

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