5 Mar 2010

I like this bloke.

Have a listen to what he has to say. Wadda ya think?

Oh yeah.
...Instead of trying to instill a love of books in children, we are obsessed with all kinds of strategies - new fashionable strategies from here and there, giving children books that are stuffed full of word lists and letters. Is it any wonder that children are leaving school unable to read?

...Currently,...(the government is)...grasping at the idea that synthetic phonics is the cure-all for teaching reading; but the reality is that phonics will never be enough to teach reading and there will always be some children who fail to pick it up no matter which teaching method is in vogue. And children who the government and schools are failing are the very children who don't have books at home. And this is one of the major ways in which we are socially divided. It's a disgrace that there isn't the same urgency that the government is putting into phonics as there is in getting children to love books.

...It's about creating a book-loving culture, both at school and at home, and if we don't, we're never going to reach out to the kids who really need help.

...Learning to read begins and ends with wonderful, exciting, colourful books like these. Let's stop pretending that phonics will solve everything and start concentrating on developing a book loving culture that all children will benefit from.
P.S. Not knocking phonics per se; just thinking that no strategy will fit everyone, as the man says.

Loving books. That's my plan.


Hurrah - it is Friday!


  1. Very good, and a great wrap up for the blogging week.

    We don't do much phonics anymore, and are reading a whole lot more books. I am finally grasping and seeing the impact that a really good book is having and has made to my children.

    We still learn our sounds, but it's not the centre anymore in my homeschool.

    Have an awesome weekend Jeanne.


  2. Phonics played such a small part in learning to read. Reading, lots & lots & lots of books just because we liked to, sent Ditz the expectation that the learning was the key to freedom; freedom to be able to read whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. [I got some things very right ☺]

  3. Here in the U.S. phonics is part of the Right-Wing "Culture War," although much of furor has passed. It' was a red-hot issue in the 90s when the "whole language" trend held sway. Phonics is almost ALWAYS included in Christian homeschool curriculum. In reality we all learn to read, as you and your "bloke" have pointed out--thru a combination of factors. But it's so polarized here that you have to be careful when/where you mention the "Ph" word!

  4. Oh dear, Lisa, so often I am controversial without meaning to be :(

    I do agree with Michael Rosen though...

  5. Guess I missed that war but I am heart-broken when I hear from mothers whose children are already reading questioning why their kids aren't enjoying their phonics lessons.

    Yes, phonics is a daily subject in the public school here but our superintendent was happy hearing that Max was no longer "learning to read but reading to learn."*

    *Ruth Beechick's phrasing

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Hi Jeanne,
    When we started school, the first thing that we did was phonics. Why? I don't know, except that another homeschooler said that we needed to learn phonics. :/

    Eight years on, our children don't even remember the phonics rules, and I feel that it was wasted time!

    Now, good books - that's a different story - books that you can see come alive in the children's narrating, and books that make their imaginations spring into life - that's what homeschooling is all about!

    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Jillian ♥

  7. Michael Rosen is a hero of mine. Love what he does for kids in encouraging poetry too.

    I think the difference between literature and phonics can be summed up like this: it's hard to become passionate about an "e" or a "b". But wonderful children's books inspire dreams and a love of reading.

    Using phonics as part of the curriculum makes good sense to me when kids are learning to write and spell and also to decode words. But it's scary when it becomes the focus of a program to the detriment of literature.

  8. Interesting Jeanne....

    I've found Phonics learning to be the most successful way in teaching my children to read fluently. But as you said, it doesn't fit everyone. It's great to have variety.

  9. G'day Jeanne!

    I am in total agreement with the post - there is no one 'fixed' way that will teach every child to read well. Our children have such varied learning styles and strengths that it is simply not possible, particularly in a classroom environment, to just have one solution for all.

    I had my attempt at a post on this earlier in the week also:

    Great to see we are on the same page! :)

  10. Oh I loved what he had to say. Phonics is just a tool, that should be used properly and in it's place. We definitely need to instill a love of books more.

  11. I taught public school here in the states in the early 90's and hated teaching phonics to a classroom full of emerging readers. I loathe phonics and appreciate the video you posted. I couldn't resist posting it on my blog as well. Another good video is from comedian Gallagher. (I put that on my blog as well - but don't watch it with little ones in the room).


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...