The Decoding Argument
It was the weekly ritual after my men’s rec league hockey game where we normally sit at the bar to watch sports and discuss manly things as manly men should discuss. I have always found myself in a female dominated world so my discovery of this ritual has been invaluable to me.
My business endeavors don’t usually seem as relevant to major investments, corporate mergers and new platforms in IT. However, it occurred to me that there were a few guys with small children who would begin to read soon. We (my mother, Kirsten and the whole family) had just finished the “Poster Series” for the Love Of Learning LLC Reading Program and I was feeling accomplished so I shared my work triumph with my hockey team. I was gearing up for a Montessori conference and thought it would be good practice for me to explain the reading program.
“It’s a series of posters with an instructional DVD demonstrating teaching techniques for reading.”
I thought to myself “Nice! That was pretty concise.”
“But what is it? What qualifications does your mother have?” asked Ben, my goalie and a patent attorney. So I explained who the great Dr Ijya C. Tulloss is and how she gave up a career in Chemistry to pursue Montessori and later opened her own Montessori School and Day Care and when she got her PhD, she founded the first masters program in Montessori at Barry University in North Miami. That evoked some nods of approval and agreeing “humn”s. I also explained that our reading program was a synthesis of a Montessori approach to phonics and along with some keys identified by my mother (The Great Dr. Ijya C. Tulloss).
Larry, my defenseman and an IT specialist said, “I don’t like phonics. My daughter was taught with phonics and it doesn’t help with the real words.”
The light bulb went off and suddenly I found my conference form. It became so clear to me that I knew the next “manly man” conversation was about to be about phonics! I began, “Most people think of phonics as the sounds of the alphabet and short vowel sounds. It’s where most people begin and end with the reading process. Our program is the complete continuum of reading. It begins when a child is ready to speak and listen (before a child is ready to read and write) and it finishes with alternate sounds and exceptions to the rules. In the 50s Rudolph Flesch wrote the book “Why Johnny Can’t Read” and it spoke to the fact that reading is decoding and has been all throughout the history of the written word. Somewhere in the 30s and 40s people thought phonics was too cumbersome and started to teach the “Look-Say” method. There has been a decline in reading since. They found that children were not reading entire words. They were guessing at words that looked familiar to them.”
Larry presented a picture to me on his phone from the web search of “read that wrong”. The second picture said:
“What I if told you
you read the
first line wrong.”
The first picture was less appropriate for this blog but the “manly man” tone had been restored to the conversation it was clear to me that the argument for phonics and been made and that some of my buddies would likely have our posters in their nurseries.