Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Won't Someone Think Of The Children?!

(from grandteuton.blogspot.com)

  • Perhaps it's something to do with the programmes I watch, but I've seen far too many of the commercials for a "teach your infant to read" system in the past several months.  Heidi will attest that I can hardly stop myself decrying the pernicious influence this method would have, were it widely adopted.  My basic question is, "When did our writing become logographic?" (Apparently logographic is now the preferred term for the now-disparaged ideographic.)

    Memorising full words before having learned the sounds represented by the alphabet simply makes no sense.  Some writing systems (e.g. Chinese) are logographic, that is the units of writing (individual logograms) represent words or concepts [yes I know, sometimes sounds as well], while others (e.g. English) are alphabetical where the units of writing (letters) represent sounds.  In either system, its basic units are combined to represent words.
    I will grant you that our current pronunciations often don't match well with the spelling (after all, orthography was mostly set long ago, while pronunciations continued to change with little regard for how the literate folks were spelling things), but without a solid grounding in the sounds of letters and combinations of letters, every new word becomes an exercise in frustration.  I frankly can't imagine wanting to read much of anything under those terms.

    Oh, and folks who've learned to read in this sight/sound/meaning system (which reminds me of parts of the whole language system we were told to embrace some years ago) actually don't want to read much.
    Still, there is only one criterion for judging a solution to a problem these days - it must be new.  It really doesn't matter if we've moved from something that worked to something that doesn't, going back to the (dare I say correct?) method isn't to be considered.  "Don't you have any new ideas to contribute?  Can't you say anything but no?"

    Why can't they be Hooked on Phonics?  Bloody dolts are going to destroy a generation's reading abilities.
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