I am always amazed at how much people are willing to experiment on large segments of the population based on what they believe SHOULD work, rather than what has been shown to work.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in education. I've written at length on the ridiculous methods used in public schools to teach reading and math. People think that a certain method sounds good, so they implement it across the board, instead of looking at what actually works.
In this month's City Journal, Sol Stern reports on New York City turning away from phonics--again--to the detriment of those students most at risk of not reading.
He wants a massive influx of funds to follow scientifically proven methods. Imagine that. Instead of going with fads, you see what works.
Too often it takes outside influence to get schools to budge. Here's one example he cited:
As evidence that the Marshall Plan isn’t pie in the sky, we have seen a test run at P.S. 65, a Queens K–5 elementary school. Impressed with the evidence that Success for All could significantly improve reading among poor, at-risk students, a wealthy hedge-fund entrepreneur and education philanthropist named Joel Greenblatt paid for the program at P.S. 65, with its population of low-income immigrants from Latin America and South Asia. Greenblatt also paid for additional aides and tutors in each classroom, an approach similar to lowering class sizes. When the project started in 2002, only 36 percent of P.S. 65’s fourth-graders were reading at grade level. Within three years, the percentage of fourth-graders passing the state reading test (acknowledging its seeming limitations) shot up to 71 percent. In 2005, the school was one of 14 to win a state award for dramatically improved performance. The officials from the DOE who briefed me weren’t even aware of the P.S. 65 story, though the magazine New York chronicled it in 2006.
If your child isn't being taught phonics in school, teach it at home. Don't trust the schools. Chances are they're going by fads anyway.
But education shouldn't be something we experiment with. Our kids don't deserve that.
Labels: phonics, public schools