Education Blues (or: Reading Is Essential)

SUMMARY: THE NEED TO READ

The single most important issue in American education: poor reading instruction that leads to massive illiteracy. Recent test scores show that only ONE-THIRD of fourth and eighth-graders read at a proficient level. We have 50,000,000 functional illiterates. To save the US, we first to save the public schools. To save them, we have to save reading.


THE SAD STATE OF READING

The article I'm most proud of this past year is called "Nine Reading Experts Explain the Sad State of Reading" (you could Google it). I asked these experts to send me about 100 words. Here's what I got from Samuel Blumenfeld, who is really one of our few great educators:

“To understand what is going on in reading, you have to start at the beginning of the conspiracy to dumb down the nation. It starts with John Dewey's 1898 essay, 'The Primary Education Fetich.' Those who set the course took power over the education system by promoting their own disciples and excluding all others. They took control of the major colleges of education: Columbia, Chicago, Palo Alto, etc. They commissioned books to be written promoting whole-word instruction....Many whole-language advocates are simply the latest of the socialists who are willing to destroy this country in order to change it.' Evil is a force in this world, and it manifests itself in many different ways. Including deliberately dumbing down a nation.”

That's the most forthright explanation I received, or that I've seen. I think about it a lot. As I've investigated reading theories and the massive illiteracy in this country, I keep trying to find a benign explanation for all the stupid stuff our Education Establishment is in love with. Drivel and hoaxes, that's what they like. So you have to ask: WHY?

Many people excuse them by saying, they mean well, they're just confused. They're incompetent. They're swept along by fads. Folks, we are talking about 75 years. We are talking about 50,000,000 functional illiterates. It's just very hard for me to see clumsiness continuing decade after decade.

Maybe I don't feel qualified to talk about evil. But I'm more and more comfortable with conspiracy. And guilt. My best shot at this approach is called "41: Educators, O, J, Simpson, and Guilt." It's on my main site Improve-Education.org.

I don't recommend it for novices. But if you've been wrestling with the weirdly pathetic failures of American education, you may be ready. Those bad boys are guilty!

Or you can read Blumenfeld's book "The Whole Language/OBE Fraud."

Mainly, I put this comment here to urge people not to settle for answers that stay on the surface. Here, I'll give you another of the expert quotes. Don Potter, phonics expert, sent this: “The situation across the US is dramatically worse than anyone can possibly imagine. When I ask the teachers why they teach sight-words, they inevitably tell me that it is because their students are going to be assessed on them. They are totally unaware that sight-words are positively harmful. They consider sight-word memorization part of a good reading program that includes some phonics, not realizing that sight-words create a reflex that interferes with later phonics instruction. Sight-words are an obstacle to reading, not an aid.”

Worse than you can imagine! Is that scary or what?

Great Video About Reading

Why Be Blue About Education??

from a press release....

"One of the big mysteries of the 20th century is easy to state: what the heck happened to American education? The answer, however, is hard to pin down. Everybody has a theory; and each group wants to blame some other group.

Finally, however, education writer Bruce Price has come up with a very simple way to understand what happened to this country and its schools.

Real educators work with the whole child in an intellectually stimulating environment, with the goal of pushing all children as far as they can go. Bad educators work with only part of the child in an intellectually sterile environment, with the goal of creating a particular kind of child.

Price believes that Maria Montessori figured out the right answer more than 100 years ago. Almost at the same time, our own John Dewey got everything wrong. Unfortunately it’s Dewey’s ideas that have dominated American education. These ideas lead to dumbing down...."

PR  for article titled "Education as Neurotoxin"

Saving Big Ed

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Comments 4 comments

BruceDPrice profile image

BruceDPrice 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va. Author

[Comment says: However teaching sight words...are necessary since they do not readily follow phonetic or orthographic (spelling) rules. For example, "the."]

I've been polite for a year but now have to say this is silly. "The" has two pronunciations. One of them rhymes with HE, SHE, WE, SEE, ME, BE, SEE, etc....What could be more phonetic?

All pronunciations of "the" follow the same rules as THEY, THEN, THEM, THERE, and hundreds of other words that start TH-.

These casual pronouncements of supposed inconsistencies are one of the enduring accomplishments of an Education Establishment that seems dead-set on diminishing literacy.


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cashmere 6 years ago from India

I have always found the Montessori method a much better way to teach preschoolers. It gets better results as well.

Thank you for stopping by on my hub. Hope you enjoy writing on hubpages.


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BruceDPrice 6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va. Author

Out of respect for the Wild Iris, I approve the comments. Which is not to say I agree.


WildIris 6 years ago

Regarding the teaching of reading: I think some schools of education returned to teaching phonics, abandoning whole-language reading methods. However teaching sight words, not the whole-language reading method, are necessary since they do not readily follow phonetic or orthographic (spelling) rules. For example,"the."

As for Dewey, he helped education move away from a more classic method of teaching to an education that related to the new American school child that no longer worked in a factory but needed to receive an education for future employment.

What we have today in America looks more like a for profit venture. Each child represents a dollar amount to a school. Every absence must be dutifully accounted for because if a student has legitimate absences, then the school loses funding. The same holds true for testing. Those test scores represent dollars to the school, teacher's wages, pension funds, and maintenance to dilapidated buildings. What gets lost in all of this is student learning. Good teachers get discouraged in this type of environment.

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