I was interested in reading an article in Sunday’s Sydney Telegraph about the new magical approach in getting Australia’s dismal Literacy and Numeracy results up into the ‘Finnish range’ (as in Finland being one of the top countries for literacy). Imagine my surprise, when the NEW system will be a radical focus on ‘phonics’ and sounding out words. The literacy testing of our 6-year-olds will be comprised of sounding out real and nonsense words. My question: and what is new about that?
The phonics approach has been their number one tool ever since I have become a dyslexic facilitator over ten years ago – and has not brought them the desired results yet. Wasn’t it Einstein who explained ‘insanity’ as ‘doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting a different result’?
The result of the testing will be easy to project: Children who are auditory learners (like most non-dyslexic individuals) will have no problem passing the test – and those who are visual or tactile learners (like most of my dyslexic clients) will have the problems they always have or had in our traditional school environment. What they see as novel and progressive is the young age they ‘catch them’ in order to intervene, bombarding them with phonics training to drill reading and writing into them. The problem is: if it works, with enough hard drill, then the joy of learning is gone. It usually takes away the confidence and love of reading, leaving children feel stupid – and they belong to a group of the most gifted and intelligent beings.
The article points out that the ‘whole word approach’ is one of the fads that didn’t work…and I agree. Unfortunately they don’t seem to consider that there are other ways to engage a creative mind, to help them learn by using their visual, creative, tactile strengths and help them discover, create and master their literacy and numeracy.