Last week I posted background on FreeRepublic about a column published months earlier titled “Education as Neurotoxin.”
This column tries to explain why the US has 50 million functional illiterates and 1 million dyslexics. Were these people born this way? Or had bad education methods caused the impairments? (In which case, our enemies never needed to put fluoride, etc., in the water as our public schools were already harming the nation’s intelligence.)
Someone left a half-dozen bitter comments insisting I was “delusional,” “illogical,” “irrational,” “nonsensical,” etc. I’m not sure which part offended him most, that sight-words create mental problems; or that the far-left could possibly promote the use of destructive methods.
This commenter embraced the Dolch Dogma that kids must memorize 300 Dolch words in order to start reading. My belief is that it’s precisely the memorizing of the sight-words that causes mental impairment. English words are phonetic objects; and all of them, even the irregular ones, should be learned as such. (Flesch explained all this in his 1955 book “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” I wish everyone could read the first chapter.)
For my attempt at illuminating what happens to children in sight-word classrooms, please see “41: Sight Words--The Big Stupid.”
The other side of the discussion is this question: what prompted our educators in the depths of the Depression (ca. 1932) to discard all the phonics books, and to waste vast sums on Dick and Jane books? My sense is that their actions are irrational or subversive. For an analysis of these questions, please see “Stalinists?? Or They Walked That Way.”