Sunday, September 10, 2006
ENGLAND IS FINALLY READY TO
'BIG BEN' WHOLE LANGUAGE:
GIVE IT THE GONG, IN OTHER WORDS
Here's a story from www.telegraph.co.uk, a British publication. We could change the numbers and geographical place names, and have an accurate story here in Nebraska. But we would be dreaming, at least for now, if we would expect the government to admit that it has been wrong-orrhea all these years about Whole Language, and has been the primary enabler of the censorship of phonics-only and traditional math instruction in our schools.
Remember the goofy '60s song? "Eng-a-land swings like a pendulum do. . ."? Maybe that pendulum is about to swing back to common sense around here. We can hope!
5m pupils failed by flawed teaching
By Liz Lightfoot, Education Editor
More than five million children have been taught reading and mathematics by flawed methods imposed on primary teachers by the Government, it was admitted yesterday.
A fundamental overhaul of the literacy and numeracy strategies introduced by Labour after the 1997 election was finally announced by Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, yesterday.
The move follows years of campaigning by academics and teachers for a return to the traditional phonic method of teaching children to read and increasing concern that the new ways of teaching maths left many children unable to do simple pen and paper sums.
Multiplication tables will now be taught earlier and there will be a return to the "standard written" method of calculation rather than a series of complicated steps leading to rows of figures.
Four- and five-year-olds will be taught to read quickly using the tried and tested "phonics" method that will replace the "searchlights" of the present curriculum under which pupils learn by a mixture of strategies.
There will be no more lists of "whole words" that children must learn at the age of four or five and no more books to teach them to recognise "by sight" a single word such as "big."
Instead they will learn to decode simple words by sounding out and recognising the 44 main letter-sound relationships, leaving them more time to learn to identify trickier, non-standard spellings.
Some schools have already embraced the "synthetic phonic" method now being recommended by the Government using commercial schemes, but no attempt has been made to measure their effectiveness by the Department for Education which announced yesterday that a study will begin next year.
Since 1998 when the literacy strategy was introduced about 600,000 children starting school each year have been taught by the flawed methods despite evidence from a series of studies demonstrating beyond all doubt that children taught phonics "first and fast" learnt to read faster and with more accuracy than those in schools following the Government's lesson plans.
Other studies have shown that boys no longer lag behind girls in reading when taught in a systematic way rather than being forced to recognise and remember whole words.
Last December an inquiry into the national literacy strategy by Jim Rose, a former chief inspector of primary schools, said the mixture of methods in the strategy amounted to "a daunting and confusing experience" and recommended that it be replaced by phonics.
Official figures published last month showed that the Government missed its targets of 85 per cent of 11-year-olds reaching the expected standard for their age in reading for the ninth year in succession.
Twenty-one per cent failed to reach the level for English and 24 per cent did not reach basic competency in maths.
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