Here’s the cycle: Whole Language fails to teach kids how to read. So they can’t handle beautiful, meaningful, complex classic books. So they get dumbed-down schlock of a quality level similar to TV sitcoms. So they grow to hate reading. They either get nothing of value out of it, or have nothing but lousy role models in the schlock books their reading underachievement forces them to read. Bad behavior ensues along the principle of “Monkey See, Monkey Do.”
Meanwhile, it used to be that kids were taught to read with very simple, very cheap and very effective systematic, intensive, explicit phonics. By about sixth grade, they really could read and understand books with involved plots, challenging vocabulary, historical references, and serious themes like Moby Dick. The high school books selected for study were awesome. Kids received a bona fide education, not only in the critical thinking exercises that well-written classic books provide, but also in everything from positive character education to expanded vocabulary.
But all those two-fers and three-fers from quality reading curriculum went by the wayside because of Whole Language . . . which costs at least 100 times more than phonics-only reading instruction when you count all the remediation Whole Language readers have to have, and which produces vocabularies which have been demonstrated to be less than 1/100th as large as the vocabularies of phonics-only readers, when measured in early adulthood.
Obviously, the better way is, paradoxically, the cheaper way. But for some reason, this obvious truth escapes educational administrators. Sigh.
Comes now an excellent study which dispels the notion that throwing more money at the classroom will produce better educational outcomes. Noooooo, it doesn’t. What DOES work is if that classroom is run using much better classroom management techniques, i.e., discipline. Like phonics and classic kiddie lit, discipline is another quaint throwback to yesteryear that today’s administrators don’t seem to “get.” Double sigh!
Here’s the info on the study: