Bored with teaching phonics, educators have turned to trendier and less effective methods, writes Stuart Buck on TechCentralStation. Quoting Professor Plum, an education professor, Buck writes that we know how to teach children to read.
What works is making sure that children are rigorously and systematically instructed in the basics: letter identification, sounding out phonemes (i.e., phonics), learning how to piece phonemes together into words, and then reading words that are progressively harder . . .
. . . Instead of settling on what demonstrably works, some education professors have pushed “whole language” instruction, in which children are taught to memorize the forms of whole words, rely on contextual cues, etc. But when they lack the ability to sound out individual letters and sounds, children inevitably run into difficulty whenever they face a word that they have not memorized wholesale.
I don’t agree that educators abandoned phonics because they were bored with success or needed tenure-worthy topics. Success isn’t universal for any method of teaching reading; repeating old verities is a great way to get tenure. I think educators who value creativity and want school to be fun are predisposed to reject methods that require drill and memorization or risk wrong answers.