Friday, June 23, 2023

Phonics are the Only Way - Vox Popoli

 Mississippi is no longer the uneducated laughing stock of the US public school system:

It’s a cliché that Kymyona Burk heard a little too often: “Thank God for Mississippi.”

As the state’s literacy director, she knew politicians in other states would say it when their reading test scores were down — because at least they weren’t ranked as low as Mississippi. Or Louisiana. Or Alabama.

Lately, the way people talk about those states has started to change. Instead of looking down on the Gulf South, they’re seeing it as a model.

Mississippi went from being ranked the second-worst state in 2013 for fourth-grade reading to 21st in 2022. Louisiana and Alabama, meanwhile, were among only three states to see modest gains in fourth-grade reading during the pandemic, which saw massive learning setbacks in most other states.

The turnaround in these three states has grabbed the attention of educators nationally, showing rapid progress is possible anywhere, even in areas that have struggled for decades with poverty and dismal literacy rates. The states have passed laws adopting similar reforms that emphasize phonics and early screenings for struggling kids.

We utilized phonics to teach our children and all of them were reading simple sentences before they were four years old. Originally, with a Powerpoint slideshow, and later with a homemade Android app, then followed by the Bob Books. Any child can learn to read before the age of five if provided with a daily phonics run, first through the alphabet, then through the randomized phonemes.

Phonics vs whole language is the precisely akin to the difference between learning to read Japanese through kana and through kanji. The former is easy and can be accomplished in a matter of months. The latter is incredibly difficult and requires years of study for even basic literacy.

Don’t ever take any teacher, professional educator, or scientist seriously if they oppose phonics for any reason. At best, they are ignorant and maleducated. At worst, they are malevolent and seeking to intellectually lobotomize children.