Another inane educational concept–WORD ATTACK SKILLS

This essay discusses a really stupid idea.

Words are pretty simple to understand if one thinks of them signifying something that has a meaning and must be spelled a certain way. Learning the sounds of letters and words makes symbolic language correspond to verbal language.

All this word attach nonsense is a way to deemphasize phonics.

Then they are given words to site memorize in the look see methods, which limits the vocabulary but produces good little illiterates.

My father, a physician, went wild one day when he asked one of my brothers, who was in 2nd grade, to read the word on a stop sign, and he couldn’t because he couldn’t do the s sound, the t sound, the o sound, or the p sound–he hadn’t been taught to memorize stop yet. Needless to say, that brother along with his brother who was in 1st grade at the time, was in a phonics teaching school in less than a week.

Word attack skills are a waste of time and just a new game played by pedagogues of the minor leagues to keep their little ignorant cult of look see going. Makes for lots of seminars trying to teach little kids context and semantics, and my favorite from this empty headed method–guessing.

Language is a basic thing, and must be mastered. Some idiots just have to find a way to make things complicated–kind of like job security for teachers and publishers and College Schools of Education.

Here’s a take away from the essay:

The basic thrust of the three-cueing system is to suppress phonics. This make-believe system has been a destructive epidemic for more than 50 years. Kenneth Goodman provided the sophisticated sophistries to keep this thing going. By the way, he originally taught that kids need a four-cueing system, the last one being “pragmatic.”

Another famous literacy professor recently state: “In the act of reading we use the knowledge stored in our cortex to constantly reach out and predict the meanings of words in the sentences we are about to read.” Really? Doesn’t that sound psychic?

Meanwhile, as these dubious methods are pushed upon the kids, they are also being told to memorize lists of sight-words, another dead end.

Here’s an interesting summary of the whole mess, as told by a teacher:

One day, a parent complained that her child couldn’t sound out the words in his home reader. Berys advised the parent not to expect the child to sound out, but to encourage him to look at the picture, read ahead, have a guess, etc. Then if he still couldn’t get the word, just read it for him.

Then a funny thing happened – a Eureka moment. The teacher realized that “what she had just said made no sense.” And this was after years of saying it! (She did her homework and eventually became a phonics publisher.)

Skills, a plural, is the beginning of the trick here. There is actually only one word attack skill – namely, a child sees a letter and converts it into a sound.


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