The Look-Say Method
For Teaching Reading
While flicking around with the TV remote this evening, I stumbled
upon Stephen Fry (a famous British celebrity) presenting a
programme which had something to do with ancient history.
He was talking about the development of writing, and pointing out
that the creation and development of an alphabetic script
'democratised' both reading and writing.
Prior to the development of an alphabetic script - whereby some 30
symbols represent the sounds that words have when they are
verbalised - the best available system for written language was
one wherein there was a different symbol for each word or idea.
And so, for example, people would need to learn to read and write
thousands of different symbols in order to deal effectively with written language.
As a result, only a highly-educated elite would manage to become
proficient with reading and writing.
Often priests of some sort.
But with the development of an alphabetic script, just about
everyone could learn to read and write.
After all, with such a script, they only needed to learn the sounds associated with 30
symbols and, of course, the symbols themselves.
More or less.
And I have many times throughout my life seen historians point out
that the development of an alphabetic script was a major milestone
in the progress towards civilisation and success.
Because it enabled so many people to read and write!
Furthermore, from an experimental psychologist's point of view,
there has never been any significant evidence to suggest that
not learning the
relationships between letters and their sounds was a good idea
when it comes to teaching children to read and write.
As I point out in my piece entitled
Lerning to Reed, children benefit enormously by learning the
relationships between letters and sounds.
So, how can it be that, for nearly all of the past four decades or
so, our state-run left-wing dominated educational establishments in the
UK and USA have
chosen to teach most of our children to read and write using the
method that specifically disregards the relationships between
letters and their sounds?
How on earth did this happen?
After all, we have thousands of educational professors and
psychologists, and hundred of thousands of professional teachers
in the UK alone.
And the reading standards of our children over these years has
So, how did it happen?
WHY did it happen?
How could these people have possibly thrown away the 'key' to
successful reading and writing?
(Or, at the very least, diminished it; in terms of its deemed
importance to the learning process.)
While, at the same time, watching the standards decline!
How is it possible that this
Well, as my regular readers will know, the answer to this question
seems very obvious to me, because so much evidence points to it.
The idea was to advantage the girls by scuppering the boys; e.g.
see Stop Helping The Boys.
And this has been achieved.
But let's forget about my opinion.
Because maybe I'm wrong.
But you should have a good think about how and why a teaching method that was known
to work beautifully well for most children when it comes to
learning to read and
write was ditched by state-run left-wing educational
establishments - which then sat by and watched the
literacy standards of the children decline; over decades.
A couple of years ago, the UK government began trying to persuade
schools in the UK to teach written language skills by using
phonics; wherein letters and their related sounds form the bedrock
of teaching youngsters to read and write. My understanding is that
UK schools are now increasingly using phonics.
But how could it possibly be that these hugely powerful
educational bodies - consisting of hundreds of thousands of
professionals - persisted in foisting on to our children a
learning system that was demonstrably
so very inferior to the one that was used before?