Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Educational insanity continues

I'm on a roll this week, taking the hatchet to the insanity that passes for education in this country. Today, I'm bringing you news of the creative spelling in at least one school district in Texas. Because I'm a regular reader of Steve's stellar blogging at Out of the Binjo Ditch, I now know, in a school district in his community, they no longer couple phonics with spelling. Well, let me let Steve describe it:

Well, we found out that there is a similar teaching style at work where we live. Our school district, and one of the adjacent districts don't teach phonics the way we learned them once upon a time. Rather than teaching sounds, and letter combinations, and then teaching exceptions as we go along, the schools now encourage children to write words the way they sound. So, instead of learning how to spell, they're learning how to spell incorrectly, and the theory is that they'll learn the proper spelling as they go through school. Ex. - I likd etng is crem satrday = I liked eating ice cream Saturday.
This "creative" spelling approach has been around for years, nay decades, and has consistently proven to be a failure, producing children who never properly learn to read or write. The reason for its ongoing popularity is that it's a way of teaching that doesn't call on one to correct the child. That is, in an ordinary world, if I child writes "I like katz," a normal teacher would say, "That's just wonderful, Johnny. Now lets make that sentence even better. Even though it doesn't make sense, we spell it 'cats.' 'Katz' is very logical, but it's just not how it's done." Notice that there's nothing critical in this approach. Indeed, when I do it with my children, they often emerge feeling doubly smug: first, that they spelled the word the logical way and, second, that they've added to their fund of knowledge by learning the correct spelling. However, our American teachers have learned to teach in a world that eschews the wonderful red ink correction -- "Hey, you. You need to fix this!" -- in lieu of the nonconfrontational violet ink correction -- "Um, excuse me, I think, maybe, that this isn't quite right, and, you know, maybe, like, you should change it." To teachers in this mindset, the idea that a child's "natural" spelling ability might yield gibberish is anathema. Everything a child does is good, or must be received as good in this universe. This approach to teaching, of course, falls into the category of "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Or, should I say, "Th rode to Hel is payved with good intenshuns." My gosh, I feel positively Chaucerian. Previous posts about insane educational trends: This happened in Georgia, of all places The state of American education continues to dismay Colleges and indoctrination Another landmark on my road to conservatism "Wither" higher education? Free speech is dead on campus, but alive on the internet