Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Fred:

May he live forever!

The new Fred column is out!

Fred wonders how children can be kept from reading for twelve long years in schools, when it only takes a month or so for a child to actually learn how...
A sheet of dry wall would be reading in less time.

The reason for this, which any conscious person with a half-hour of research and ten minutes of simple deliberation could conclude, is that the schools no longer use the phonics method of reading. This is a travesty. Phonics is, simply put, the best way--the only way, really--to teach a child to read.
At three, she was reading. Yes, it was, “Billy chased the cat up the tree,” not “the eschatological significance of the kerygma.” Still, it was reading. It was what millions of kids who have finished school cannot do, even at the cat-and-tree level. She thought it was splendid fun. It did not occur to her that any effort was involved. Of course Daddy was making an enormous fuss over her, which was not a discouragement. Daddy is that way about his girls.

How did I bring about this onset of literacy? The same way I later did with her sister, who also was reading well before kindergarten. I told her that c said “kuh,” that a said “a” and t said “tuh.” Kuh-a-tuh. Cat. And look here, Pumpkin, r says “err,” and if you put it in front of "at" you get err-a-tuh, rat. Ain’t that something?

She agreed that it was. Indeed she received all of this occult lore with attention and no visible puzzlement. It quickly dawned on her that you could string these letter things together to express interesting thoughts. Soon she could sound out words she didn’t remotely understand and, when the multitudinous exceptions and peculiarities of English intruded, she simply learned them.

I don’t know. About a month.

Moral: If you're going to put your children through the morass of the public education system (Shame on you!), at least teach them to read before you send them: they sure won't learn when they're there...