Written By onci on Monday, April 19, 2010 | 3:38 PM
When you make a list of all the stupid ideas enshrined in the public schools, there will be many contenders for stupidest idea of all.
It’s tough to pick the absolute worst but let me nominate the common practice in public schools of teaching children to GUESS what words mean. This is the central gimmick in whole-word or sight-word reading.
But here’s the good news. Guessing is a clear signal that a child cannot actually read. It is thus the quickest diagnostic we have. If a child looks at “car” and reads “house,” you see immediately that the meaning is wrong, and the phonetics are wrong. So you know this is just a stab in the dark, a hopeless cry in the wilderness.You don’t need to know anything else. It’s time to stop whatever so-called training the child is getting and teach the child to read using phonics.
The leading experts in the Whole Word movement said that guessing is good. I’d argue that guessing is part of a broader strategy known as dumbing down.
The link is to a four-minute video on YouTube that explains why guessing is a problem. This graphic video is intended for teachers and parents who don’t quite understand the flaws in Whole Word. Please pass this link around: