Thursday, December 19, 2002


Exciting findings from science about what happens in the brains of good readers are likely to be of great service in improving our methods of reading instruction . . . if people pay attention.

As I reported on www.DailySusan.blogspot.com Monday, researchers in Houston are finding through neuroimaging that the spots in the brain that relate symbols to sounds go off like the Fourth of July when a good reader is reading . . . but are blank and silent when a struggling reader is reading.

That's because struggling readers don't have phonics embedded in their brains and aren't automatically and incredibly quickly making those key symbol-sound connections as they attack a line of text.

Since whole language uses a wide variety of cues besides phonics, whole language readers develop distorted thinking patterns when they try to read a line of text. Because they are led to discern meaning based on the first letter of the word, the last letter of the word, the accompanying illustration, the context of the sentence, and so on and so forth, their brains literally clump together in a heap . . . instead of firing off automatically and incredibly quickly, the way kids who have been taught to read using strictly phonics can do.

Whole language readers are left up to their own devices -- educators literally call it "constructivism" because they are supposed to "construct" their own way of learning to read -- and so their brains aren't being used properly.

So here's my idea:

Why don't we hook up the members of the local school boards, as well as the State Board of Education, to brain scans . . . and then tell them this information, that their policies are literally causing kids' brains to fade to black, when they allow educators to use whole language instead of phonics?

Think it'd sink in then?

Just kidding. But it's a thought. :>)

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