Friday, July 14, 2017

Teach the Principles

Yesterday, I read an article about a school which had been rated as one worst in the state for teaching reading.  By switching from the Common Core reading program to a traditional program, they became one of the best within two years.    After reading the philosophy behind Common Core, ti was not hard to understand why the kids were having trouble reading. 

In an effort to excite the kids about being able to read, the Common Core program starts by having the kids memorize words, then read them in sentences.  As a result, the kids can begin reading within a day or two, which builds their confidence immensely.   They can only read books which are limited to the words they have memorized, so it at some point it becomes necessary to introduce the concept of sounding out the words by teaching them phonics.  Unfortunately, having been able to read their first few books so easily, the children have difficulty understanding why they need to learn the principles of phonics since they can already read and resent having to learn all the rules, limiting their ability to read. 

The traditional method starts with teaching the alphabet and the different sounds each letter makes, them combining the different sounds to form words using phonetic principles.  It takes several days for the children to learn to read simple words like cat or dog, but before long they begin sounding out words they don’t know.   By using those phonetic rules, they understand their importance, and with practice, can read anything they find.  Their ability to understand what they read is limited only by the size of their vocabulary.   They started by learning and applying basic principles, then building on them.

The traditional approach lays a solid foundation for reading before beginning to tread, while Common core attempts to start reading, then tries to build the foundation later.  It is a little bit like trying to build the house, then put a foundation under it.  What they have already built or learned gets in the way of learning the basics, and many students give up on building the foundation.    

Initially, laying a proper foundation, whether for building a building or for training children doesn’t appear to accomplish much in the way of reaching the goal, but the more carefully the foundation is laid, the easier it will be to construct the building or train the children later, and the more satisfactory the finished product will be. 

Unfortunately, the traditional method of teaching reading fell out of favor because people tried to take shortcuts, just has often happened in building homes.    Just as a contractor may try to save time or money by not properly compacting the soil or skimping on materials, teachers would sometimes teach only a few of the phonetic principles, with the result that the kids struggled to sound out words and became discouraged with reading.  Because they quit practicing, their skills stopped growing and they were unable to read at grade level.   The results were the same as they are with Common Core. 

If we are to train our children so that they will continue to practice the proper lifestyles when they are old, we need to lay a solid foundations for them to build on.  This requires teaching them the principles found in God’s law relating to pleasing God, and those in Proverbs about living a satisfactory and productive life as thoroughly as possible.   We must not stop with teaching them to get saved, be baptized, and go to church.  If we do, they are unlikely grow as Christians, and many will drop out.   If we teach the principles, they will have a solid foundation and can continue to grow

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