• Uncategorized

    Pictures Aren’t Power

    Lest anyone should conclude that my depiction of the deplorable state of American reading instruction is exaggerated, I direct you to the video below. If you’ve ever wondered why so many children struggle, this pretty much says it all; you basically get to watch reading problems being created in real time. Notice that a couple of times, children attempt to use the letters sound out words, but the teacher reminds them to focus on the pictures instead. The clear message is that sounding out words is a strategy to be avoided. The only times she acknowledges that letters have something to do with how the words are said is when…

  • Whole Language

    Whole Language is Rote Memorization

    A  couple of days ago, I got curious about the state of phonics instruction in New York City schools and started googling away. I learned all sorts of fascinating things about the respective reigns of Joel Klein and Carmen Farina, and about the ongoing and pernicious influence of Lucy Calkins/Reading Workshop and Columbia Teachers College. I also came across a well-intentioned an article in Chalkbeat about the struggles of some Brooklyn parents to get their dyslexic children into appropriate programs. The content of the article was disheartening but fairly predictable—what I found more interesting was the semantic confusion the writers displayed in a discussion of balanced literacy vs. phonics, and it got me thinking…