Emily Hanford reveals how America’s educators adopted a flawed system for teaching reading to kids—and, as a result, completely failed them.
This is like other "learning styles" stuff which tends to be much flimsier on the evidence than its advocates hoped.
There was a real postwar shift on educational ideas that cast everything that would have been in your grandparents classroom as bad. (Drills, rote learning, dunce caps, canes). Strong case obviously that the latter 2 are bad, but the baby was thrown out with the bath water in getting rid of the rest of the "discipline" bundle.
Yes children are creative and isn't that nice? But Timmy needs to actually know how to count and spell non-creatively to be an operative adult. A century ago there were people who left school at 11 who could read and write and knew basic mathematics. Now we are warehousing kids to 18 without giving them these skills.
Nice quote in the NY Post by Mike Pompeo: ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?'” Pompeo said.
“The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten. It’s not a close call.
“If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teachers unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing.”
I served on a local school board for several years in the very district where I had attended grade school, middle school, and high school. The defining moment was when my own niece - a grade-school teacher - and I were discussing her use of "git" and "fer" and "sich," "he done this," and "he done that." I said "Holly, you can't talk like that; the students look to you for the correct way to speak."
Her response? "Oh, Uncle Jim, it's no problem. The school board told us not to correct the kids' speech because THAT'S HOW THEIR PARENTS TALK." She really said that.
Congress' refusal to protect American automakers from Japanese competition in the 'seventies completely turned around the American auto industry, which at that time was making cars that were fortunate to last 100,000 miles - in fact had odometers of only five digits. My truck is eighteen years old, just turned 180,000 miles, and I expect at least another 180K. There is no fixing the education system unless we bring in real competition, and that cannot happen with forced taxing to fund failing public schools. Parents must be able to choose, and of course the teachers' unions and their acolytes in Congress howl at the prospect like broke-d*ck dogs. We need to ask ourselves whether we want to solve the problem or not and what are the likely results if we don't. The answer will be self-evident.
A humble request from a faithful reader:
I actually _prefer_ to read this kind of content. Might it be possible to provide transcripts when you post links to podcasts?
iPhone 13s actually do _excellent_ transcription! (As I learned, much to my consternation, when I was interrupted mid-text by a business contact last week, and my iPhone recorded every single word we said to each other over the course of that subsequent 10 minutes into that open text box! 😀 )
"How broken? Consider the shocking fact that 65 percent of American fourth-grade kids can barely read. "
Google James Lindsay Critical Pedagogy
(I paraphrase) The goal of Critical Pedagogy is not to make good well rounded productive intelligent people. It is make the next generation of Activists.
I don’t know why they had to fix what wasn’t broken. Phonics have worked to teach kids to read for literally centuries, but these people come along and they’re like, “What if we just let the kids GUESS what words mean, based on the pictures?” And while the rest of us (including long-time homeschoolers teaching their own many children to read) advocated for phonics, they dismissed us because we aren’t “professionals.” Well, guess whose kids are reading. And guess whose aren’t.
And entire generation of kids, failed by the people who, in the end, really only have ONE job (though they often forget that): make the kids literate.
This infuriates me. And it’s why with my own kids I stick with the methods that have passed the test of time: phonics, copy work, dictation, and traditional math instruction (don’t even get me started the tedium of Common Core math, which by the way, after more than a decade, hasn’t made a single difference in the math achievement/performance of America’s children).
This is why my son is in private school and if our situation changed he would be home
schooled before is ever consider public school. Bunch of jackals.
My son was in pre-k when the pandemic started and his school closed for a month and then opened normally. Their core curriculum for pre-k was phonics and logic. They believed that if you can teach kids to read and then basic logic they can learn anything.
Right now he’s in 1st grade and at a different private school. He’s going through the phase where reading is still sounding out and it’s work so he hates it. My husband and I are avid readers and our house is covered in books. We hope it’s a phase but nightly reading is mandatory and gets tantrums but he’s still forced to do it. I’m the board chair at his school and I still don’t trust them to get it 100% correct. Because at the end of the day, No matter what happens at school it is my job to see my son properly educated.
Ok I listened. Maybe time for some hard truths.
First, we live in an idiocracy where phonies are treated as experts and showered with largesse. Let's stop. Why do we keep trying to re-invent timeless verities that work?
Second, if you're not reading to your kids from a young age, you suck as a parent and have no business having children. Sorry if truth hurts.
Third, and most important, there is no experience as rewarding as snuggling with your little one and reading to them before bedtime. And, trust me, nothing will hurt as much as when your youngest grows up to the point where they tell you they can read on their own and you just have to let go.
Fourth, more truth. This isn't an economic issue. My parents were economically marginalized. But my mom always read to the little ones and took us to the library or the bookmobile. In contrast, I had a busy law practice but made time to read to my kids. There's just no excuse. So stop making them. For yourselves and for others. This is not about race or economics. It's elemental
It's fascinating. I've had some very good teachers tell me I'm just a parent and I don't know. But they follow the latest ed school theories. And professors in ed schools, like any other university discipline, have to come up with new theories and publish them or they will lose their jobs.. And then these are pushed down to our kids as the latest in how to best educate.
Pretending that this is all peer reviewed science plus the constant churn is a problem.
Caption: "Kids learn to read the old-fashioned way at Hobart Elementary School in 1999."
Improbable. Elementary schools had abandoned phonics instruction, in most cases, long before 1999. I remember my high school teachers saying there was a huge decline in student literacy between the graduating class of 1984 and the class of 1988, because the early 1970s was when phonics was replaced by ineffective reading instruction.
Could not resist asking where all the covid education money went or sits today. Or again reminding all of the harm done by Randi W and her henchpeople.
Sold a Story was superbly done. The reporting and interviews are simultaneously compelling, humorous, technically interesting, heartbreaking, and infuriating. I had already been interested in this topic, but the series cemented things for me. I decided to start volunteering to tutor kids in ELA after hearing it.
Emily Hanford’s previous reports on the topic are also excellent. I was particularly struck by her pieces where she interviewed kids receiving tutoring who the juvenile justice system, and she also discussed the correlation between kids with literacy challenges and behavioral and legal troubles.
So glad you all are featuring her! I can’t wait to listen to the interview with Katie!
This all started with a flawed method to teach deaf children to memorize words as images. It worked for deaf children who couldn't hear phonemes better than phonics for obvious reasons. Then, with no scientific evidence whatsoever, the professors of education thought they had discovered a secret easy way to teach reading even to the most struggling students. A miracle method.
And, from there, we started trying every "easier" method of learning that came to mind for any subject til we actually eliminated many subjects in elementary schools (grammar, history, geography to name a few) and have even eliminated just learning to read fir many students! We determined these things were either unnecessary (those fools for so many centuries wasting precious time learning grammar and reading, gasp, science books) or that it was all developmentally inappropriate for children. All of the sudden.
What never happens in education is calm and thoughtfulness. Grab that next miracle method that will be so much easier and fun for the child and throw out the baby, the bathwater, the bathtub and everything else in the bathroom frim befire.. so that little Johnny won't feel badly because he is struggling more than Tommy.
Learning is struggle. Learning requires effort, and practice, and failures and STUDY after school in a quiet space for learning. Learning requires tenacity. None of these things are required in our schools today in the vast majority of Elementary and Middle schools and hardly ever in high school. Where teachers are told to be a "guide on the side" because the children teach each other SO much more than a teacher ever could. In any grade and any subject no less.
And teachers will declare with straight faces that math is about the process of trying to solve a problem and using reasonable diagrams or pictures or "strategies" to try to figure things out BUT coming to the correct answer isn't needed for learning math.
Where do we know this isn't true at all? In public school sports programs. Can you see a football coach being merely a guide on the side while the children teach each other not only the rules of the game but the best strategies, plays, methods and fitness training? And where the coach made sure no one ever felt badly if they didn't try hard to catch a super easy pass or said it was okay if a child didn't feel like running so fast right now or didn't want to practice a skill (drill and kill is evil you know).
Yeah. We do know you need teachers and practice and, yes, sometimes even drills to master anything somewhat permanently. We KNOW it but pretend otherwise. Unless its football. And the school trophies might be affected.
Pathetic and tragic all at once. Oh and pssst, parents, you know elite familues send their kids to schools that require students do hours of homework starting no later than 8th grade. ..you know, elite schools like Exeter? Those kids that go on to Ivy Leagues. Whose parents don't care that your working class child is learning to pretend to solve math problems at public schools.
Wait but aren't teachers ......"heroes?" Ms. Weingarten screeches that, right? I'll get to listening (please Bari, a transcript????) in a few but just had to get this off my chest.
Ask yourself this......how many teachers in your life really made a difference? If you can count them on more than one hand, you're lucky. Sure, the great ones are worth their weight in gold But most are witless hacks and time servers, at best. At worst, they're petty pedagogical tyrants and leftist ideologues, who abuse children. Who work only nine months per year, get lavish health and retirement benefits and can moonlight or just take it easy. So let's cut the "heroes" bs, shall we.
Teachers used to be on the whole very bright. In my mom's generation (graduated from Stanford in 1960 at the top of her class), women like her didn't have a lot of options, so many went into teaching. I had my mom as my 8th English teacher (Advanced Standing) in the late 70's and she assigned a 40 page paper for 8th grade. All the students learned how to read critically and to write and their grammar was impeccable. Today, you hear teachers say things like "Me and Susie are going to the store" or "He threw the ball to Susie and I" (when it should be "me.") Teachers don't understand the difference between objects and subjects-- that is at many even top public schools. It's one of the reasons we pulled our kids out of public school beginning in 2015/2016-- too much time on politics and ideology-- they dropped the literary canon because it consisted of white authors-- and not enough on rigor and high standards. Also, around 2010 both of my kids learned to read. My son learned easily at age 4/5 and my daughter struggled initially because her kindergarten teacher didn't think it was important to teach reading. I bought a phonics program for both of my kids, with 100 lessons, and gave them each a reward for learning all 100 lessons. I sat through every lesson with them. By end of 1st grade my daughter was a great reader. If teachers don't know how to teach reading, they shouldn't be teaching, any more than a surgeon should be operating if he doesn't know human anatomy.
The constant reference to equity was frustrating. It's about choices. If everyone got a high school education, got a full-time job and didn't have a child until they were married, poverty would go way down. The fact is that kids take a lot of time, money and energy to raise, and it's parents' responsibility to make sure it's done right. It's not the school's responsibility to raise your child. I chose to have kids in my 30's when we had enough time and money to allow me to work very part-time and be present for them, not my teens when I didn't have a husband or a job or resources. We need to talk more about personal responsibility for parenting, because the most successful kids come from 2 parent households in which they are very involved in education-- look at the success of the Asian populations.
The reality is the phonics work, whole learning doesn't, and we need teachers who are intelligent and well-spoken, something you definitely see still at top private and prep schools, but not in many public. (BTW, the conversation was interesting, but Emily sounded like she was talking in a very condescending way, the way you might if you knew you were talking to 1st graders or people who don't speak the language.)
Would have liked to read about this subject, but podcasts don't interest me. I thought I was subscribing to written articles.
Indeed. "Sight words" supplanting phonics was one of the most boneheaded ideas in the history of education.