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Phonics Test

Discussion in 'Primary' started by s7ace, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. No, thumbie. It's just an interesting book about brain research and reading. I don't for one moment think that anyone else is reading this thread any more, apart from those who enjoy an online spat or who are participants. So I'm really not bothered about making a case for it.
    You are not obliged to read the book.

  2. Stanislas Dehaene's Reading in the Brain. I have a copy and I have read it and I was not particularly impressed.
    Sticking to the facts: we know for certain that one adult in five could not read in 1939- the evidence is indisuputable. A large scale, well funded EU study in 2000 concluded that in the UK, one adult in five could not read the dosage instructions on a child's medicine bottle and we know for certain that one child in five still leaves school unable to read or write confidently.
    In the intervening 70 years, we know that hundreds of books have been published about reading by a variety of experts. We know for certain that the impact of these learned literary contributions to resolving the UKs problems of illiteracy has been zero - zilch - nothing - nada! Their erudition may have enhanced their reputations and swollen their bank balances but they have made no contribution to resolving illiteracy - none whatseoer. They have given lecturers in teacher training colleges something to lecture and students something to write essays about but they have achieved nothing at all in terms of making more children literate.
    I enjoy reading the occasional book on this subject because, if it is well written, reading it might afford me some pleasure but I no longer expect such authors to increase my knowledge in any really practical way that will help to solve the problems faced by the 100,000 plus illiterate children who leave school every year.
    My position in illiteracy is crystal clear. I believe childen in Years R, 1 and 2 should be taught all of the grapheme-phoneme correspondences because our orthography has a phonetic basis. I also believe that when it becomes obvious that certain children are not responding well to this ritual approach, teachers should be completely free to call on other perhaps non-phonic approaches if that seems appropriate. It may be that such children might eventually catch up if an exclusively ritual phonics course is persisted with but the price of this in terms of the damage to these children's self-esteem is incalculable. It is particulary depressing when it is becoming increasingly clear that there are alternative strategies that could deliver reading skills to such children quickly and painlessly.
    To deny them this opportunity because of dogma is inexcusable.

  3. Well, who knows, I might. I think my daughter has it. Goodnight to Maizie and any others still following the thread.
  4. Ooooh. Have you told the author that?
    Any clues as to what didn't impress you?
    I wasn't very impressed by his arguments for the Dual Route theory of reading, but I trusted that, as he is a neural scientist and I am not, his interpretation of brain imaging was sound.
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  6. as he is a neural scientist and I am not, his interpretation of brain imaging was sound.
    His interpretation was just that - 'his interpretation' - and I have no doubt that there will be many other neural scientists whose interpretations contradict him. I will be impressed when someone comes up with some evidence which suggests that his contribution has resulted in the number of illiterate UK school-leavers falling. All that will happen now is that teacher training students will have to read his book and write essays about it. We've been there before with dozens of other authors over the decades and 100,000+ children still leave school illiterate. We are there now with the current 'eurka strategy' and guess what - another 100,000+ children will leave school illiterate in a few months time. Many of these children will carry on to make a signficant and easily verifiable contrbution to the prison population and disproportionately high demands on the social welfare and justice budgets.
    All that doesn't seem to matter as long pseudo-intellectuals can discuss the "Dual Route theory" of reading and other similar sounding but ulitmately pointless theories - pointless as long as nothing changes in terms of the number of illiterates we produce unnecessarily.
    Reading some of these posts, I am sometimes think there is a feeling that we need to have a massive number of illiterates just to justify our existence and that they are there for our benefit and not vice versa. I wonder what we would all be doing if someone does come up with a way of resolving all illitercy difficulties.

  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  8. Fight against it like hell, of course.

    Oh, the irony...

  9. In terms of reducing illiteracy, where is the progress in Education when compared with the vast progress made in other professional disciplines over the past seven decades for which statistics are available.
    In medicine for example, hearts and other major organs are now routinely transplanted from one person to another even in third world countries and diseases which were once a death sentence are now cured as a matter of course. And one child in five still leaves school illiterate.
    The human genome has been successfully sequenced and life expectancy has increased by about a decade! And one child in five still leaves school illiterate.
    Virtually every home has at least one computer with the kind of computing power that would have been unimaginable six decades ago. And one child in five still leaves school illiterate.
    Children using their mobile phones in the school playground in the remoter parts of the Outer Hebrides can carry on a perfectly clear conversation with a friend drinking coffee in Starbucks in New York. And one child in five still leaves school illiterate.
    Science has provided us with gadgets in our cars which can direct us toany point on the planet. And one child in five still leaves school illiterate.
    Where is the parallel progress in the promotion of literacy? Where is the return on the massive investment in securing literacy for all children made by successive national governments in every English speaking country in the world?
    Hundreds of authors have produced hundreds of books and delivered thousands of lectures on the subject of illiteracy and even neuro-scientists are climbing onto the gravy train of illiteracy.
    When do the children start to reap the benefits from this massive financial and intellectual investment? As long as there are those who would prefer to have these children leave school unable to read or write rather than concede that there is the slighest possibility that their dogma could be wrong - the answer is never!

  10. An interesting article that shows that it takes longer to read words if the letters are muddled up, and even longer if wrong letters are substituted. Not much of a surprise.The researchers conclude that readers cannot rely on context for word recognition, but it could just as easily have been that readers do not rely on SP for word recognition.
  11. I can only conclude, eddie, that your utter contempt for research of any kind indicates that you think it is down to the power of one human brain, yours, to solve the literacy crisis.
    I don't think that was the way that organ transplantation was developed, or killer diseases eradicated, or the human genome mapped or even how mobile phone technology was developed. These achievements were all the result, I believe, of accumulated research findings and collaborative effort.
    But of course, reading must be different
  12. I think Eddie's post is a cry from the heart, not attacking researchers, but bewailing the fact that investment in many initiatives has not solved the underlying problem. I get a feeling he thinks that might be down to intransigence within the education community.Of course, scientific investigation into education is fraught with various problems, such as, in the case of classroom research, the difficulty of isolating factors to provide proper control groups, The necessarily large size of sample etc.
  13. As a researcher myself with more than two decades of experience I applaud all research which results improved literacy standards as measured externally eg Key Stage 2.
    Practical research on illiteracy has fewer difficulties than you might imagine. Any primary school out there who is likely to get about 80% of their pupils to Level 4 English or higher can do so if they wish and at absolutely no cost whatsoever- yet they don't. Now why would that be? Not one pupil predicted to achieve Level 3 has failed to achieve Level 4 or higher after using a perceptual learning strategy - not one! And in my current Year 2 intervention, not one non-reading child has failed to become a reader and after only one term.
    That give me a lot of pleasure!
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I'm sure it does Eddie. And every child who you feel should be able to read better than they do and can't is a source of displeasure.
    Just hoping I am doing something similarly useful into my 80s, 90s, 100s, Eddie.
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    wrong in what way thumbie?
    wrong in that if they mix up the middle letters it's easier to read than if they mix up all the letters especially the initial letter ...
    Example Sentence

    Reading Speed

    The boy could not solve the problem so he asked for help.

    255 wpm
    Internal letters

    The boy cuold not slove the probelm so he aksed for help.

    227 wpm
    Final letters

    The boy coudl not solev the problme so he askde for help.

    189 wpm
    Beginning letters

    The boy oculd not oslve the rpoblem so he saked for help.

    163 wpm

  16. Wrong in the sense of wrong:"Finally, when letters are substituted rather than transposed, readers take much longer to read sentences (Rayner & Kaiser, 1975). When the letter substitutions were visually similar internal letters (so problem was printed as pncblem) reading time doubled; when ending letters were substituted (problnc), reading time also doubled, and when beginning letters were substituted (qroblem), reading time was 2.5 times longer than normal".
  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Wrong in the sense of substituting different initial letters thanks for clarifying
  18. gcf


    Congratulations, Eddie. It is an enormous satisfaction to help children who have been semi-written off - even more satisfying when they become book lovers. Every good wish for the continuing success of your perceptual reading programme.
    However, I'm still not sure why you so denigrate people who have understood that synthetic phonics' teaching - coupled with teaching the necessary broad-based literacy and literary follow-on - are the equivalent of devils incarnate.
    Recently my Sound Reading System trained colleague and myself started to teach a 32 year old man very severely affected with Fragile X . He loves words, has, I understand, wanted to read all his life but after 25 years has only achieved a 'sight' word vocabulary of around 20+ words. In the first three 10-15 minute sessions he had decoded/read/had a lot of fun/ an understanding that the squiggles on the page were a code for sound and had his confidence hugely boosted as he learned to decode/read the first 3 of the 150 (SP compatible) books I distribute for the UK market. My more experienced colleague who has used the same books in tandem with Sound Reading System instruction for a number of years was then free to take on this man's instruction and was able to work for one hour sessions with him - his parents thought that 10 minutes would be his maximum attention span before stress/inappropriate behaviour kicked in. The instruction was cut short and as the young man lives 100 miles away we haven't been able to continue the instruction started last autumn; this summer we plan to continue. The rewards for him, his family and for us who have been able to add to his very limited quality of life, and to his independence, are inestimable.
    I am simply at a loss to understand the depth of your antagonism when posters such as Msz and Maisie can achieve excellent results. Ditto many, many schools in none too priviledged areas who achieve well over 80% with good SP teaching. We do need our teachers trained - most of us have seen very botched phonics teaching and as Mystery10 commented it is very apparent by the mish- mash of weekly spelling lists (let alone the high-frequency words and the dead from the neck up biff and chip books) that teachers have not been properly trained - not surprising as most LEA advisers/trainers are wedded to an eclectic approach.
    My two favourite observations from teachers:
    "They can sink like stones if you let them go too soon"
    "I really have come to the conclusion that the reason some children do not progress is because we do not always practise until the skill is mastered...Some kids need a huge amount of repetition to learn, and often we as teachers can't bear not to move on.".

    BTW - Stanovich was mentioned because this distinguished cognitive scientist did change his mind when evidence showed that Code based teaching was more effective than balanced literacy. There are interviews with over 100 other researchers on .Children of the Code website but Stanovich was mentioned by me because he did change his mind after looking at the evidence.


  19. However, I'm still not sure why you so denigrate people who have understood that synthetic phonics' teaching - coupled with teaching the necessary broad-based literacy and literary follow-on - are the equivalent of devils incarnate.
    I regard no-one as devils incarnate. I certainly abhor anyone in teaching who has a closed mind viz those who believe that there is one way and way only to teach children to read - whatever that strategy might be and to hell with the 100,000 who fail to become literate - that must be the fault of lousy teaching because my beliefs are perfect and beyond reproach.
    I have been a supporter of SP since long before either Maizie or Msz - where I depart from them is that I believe, and routinely show in many widely dispersed practical research projects, that when children fail to respond to a ritual teaching approach, they invariably always respond to a perceptual learning approach. It is they who denigrate my proposals which are based, not on what I have read, but on which I done and continue to do.
    I have a current project invovling 63 Year 2 non readers. These children would almost certainly have become part of the 100,000 who fail to achieve Level 4 English at KS 2 every year and who go on to leave school illiterate . Because of the perceptual learning intervention which is only half way through, none of them are still 'non-readers' This is an endeavour which is contrary to the proclaimed beliefs of those who attack my belief system which is simply that when children fail to respond to a ritual teaching approach, whjy not try a perceptual strategy which is based on sound logic and appears to work in every instance.
    To maintain the closed mind postion "We are right therefore everyone else is wrong and to do anything to teach children to read which is not SP is blasphemy" is the fundamentalist position. In common with all fundamental positions, it is extremely dangerous and in this instance damaging to the prospects of the 20% who leave school every year illiterate. ~The fact that Msz might be an excellent teacher and Maizie and excellent teachign assistant is irrelevant to the national picture. To continue to pursue strategies with children when they are manifestly not working is not simply folly - it is dangerous fundamentalism and damages the chances of tens of thousands of children every year.

  20. I hate to rain on your parade, eddie, but there are SP practitioners who could say much the same sort of thing as you have said in this post. I don't think your response to them would be at all positive.


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