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post #41 of 103
Quote:
Do you have a citation? I have never heard before that the literacy rate was so high in 1940 for African-Americans?
I got it from John Taylor Gatto's book, "The Underground History of American Education", he doesn't provide a source. But he does quote the US army admissions tests which was 96% literacy between the years 1942 to 1944. 18 million men were tested and 17,280,000 were deemed literate, so perhaps it was from that source.
post #42 of 103
Fascinating thread.

Don't have anything to add r.e. reading skills, since I'm not there yet. But did want to add two quick points;

1) as a waldorf mother I feel that waldorf holds a wonderful balance between fantasy and reality. The fantasy is not imposed on children, (and all the disney characters etc are completely eradicted), they are allowed to create pretty much whatever they want. (It's bizarre to me to hear of a classroom where children are told how to play with a certain toy or what an object can or cannot do). At the same time, in wladorf they are very much engaging in the "real world", by using natural materials, by handmaking things from scratch, by experiencing things physically, focusing on nature and seasons, etc.

2) I think waldorf is a good environment for boys since it is ultimately very physical and hands on. My son's class goes outside every single day no matter what the weather and they have an enormous amount of freedom to dig in the mud, build forts, overturn desks and make boats, etc. Granted, this is still kindergarten, but I have heard that even in grades a teacher might take a class out on a nature walk or play a ball game or do a movement exercise to get a concept across. I think if my son were in a traditional classroom sitting still at a desk and reciting facts he would get in to trouble very quickly; he is playful and inquisitive and needs to move and explore things for himself.
post #43 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by muse
Fascinating thread.
(It's bizarre to me to hear of a classroom where children are told how to play with a certain toy or what an object can or cannot do).
Just to be devil's advocate here (and because I don't actually know the answer) - what would happen if a child wanted to play killer robot gnomes with the toys at waldorf? What if they wanted to take sticks and play gun battle of the underworld? Would they be allowed to play zombies during recess?
post #44 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspaghettimama
Just to be devil's advocate here (and because I don't actually know the answer) - what would happen if a child wanted to play killer robot gnomes with the toys at waldorf? What if they wanted to take sticks and play gun battle of the underworld? Would they be allowed to play zombies during recess?
ha ha well you wrote that just as my ds was sitting here turning or lovely handmade knitting needles into a gun to shoot his little sister!

I'm sure it depends on individual tecahers but actually ds has played some form of pretty much all those games at school. They are allowed to play freely as long as it is safe and respectful play. There was a point at which the teacher felt their killing/dying play was becoming "empty" (as in repetitive and uncreative) and therefore unhealthy and she dealt with that not by banning that game but by introducing stories that sparked their imagination and helped them take the game to a new level.
post #45 of 103
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl
It just occurs to me that we're mixing up "whole word" and "whole language" as well. They aren't exactly the same. The "whole word" idea is that words are learned in terms of a visual symbol rather than as a series of coded sound patterns. This discusses the differentiation between the look-say or whole word strategy from the whole language approach.

Whole language, as I said, concentrates on the aspect of comprehension of the narrative or story, and doesn't take a stand one way or another about how to approach the words themselves--either phonetic clues or visual patterns in terms of a "word attack" strategy. It tends to the idea that reading skill develops along the same lines as learning to speak. The mind wants to make sense of the narrative, and particular strategies the reader employs more deeply develop and reinforce themselves naturally, from continuous exposure to literature.
I am currently reading this book by Dr. Ronald E. Koetzsch, called The Parents' Guide to Alternatives in Education. It is a very imformative book, discussing the foundations of and current trends in the American public school system as well as 22 education alternatives, everything from Carden to Montessori to Waldorf (I believe I read somewhere that the author is himself a big Waldorf supporter but the book seems pretty objective, on the whole).

Anyway, in his section on current trends in American public education, there is an entire chapter on the "whole language" approach. He describes it as follows:

Quote:
The phonetic method is an analytical approach to reading, moving from mastery of the parts to mastery of the process itself. In contrast, whole language is based on the principle that learning should begin with the whole and proceed to the part. Thus, from the outset, the teacher reads real stories to and with the children. Children learn to identify whole words and to see how they are combined to make sentences. Real, intact books that have literary merit are are appropriate to the age of the children are used. ...Lessons in reading are not a distinct, isolated event, but take place within the context of the reading of a poem or story or other piece of literature. Phonetic instruction can be apart of the whole language approach as a supplementary technique.
I have to say, I plan on continuing to read to my little girl everyday, whenever she wants. She loves her books. If one day when she is 4 or 5 or 6 years old, she starts to recognize the written words on the page because I have read her the same text so often, well I guess that's great but let me just emphasize that, for me at least, this is NOT reading. This is memorizing. If she happens to recognize the same word in a new book because she learned it in a previous book that I read to her, this is still NOT reading. If she happens to guess correctly that the word under a picture of a cow is "Cow", no, not even this is reading. If she happens to guess correctly the words printed on a page as a result of anything else in the context of the book, this is still NOT reading.

When she is able to go into a restaurant, look at a menu, and utter the word "hamburger" that is written in the 10th line, without ever having seen the word before and without having a picture of a hamburger beside the text, then and only then, will she be truly reading.

Regarding reading comprehension, I think that the answer is first of all to begin reading books with your child from a very young age and secondly to give a child lots of non-fiction or fiction that a child can relate to in her daily life. A literary diet consisting solely of Winnie-the-Pooh (and here I am not even talking about the original classic, The House at Pooh Corner, but rather all the Disney-issued versions for toddlers), Disney characters, Dr. Seuss (yes, it's excellent for its rhyme and rhythm and moral lessons but there are other books), and Babar without books on things in the real world cannot possibly help a child develop good reading comprehension. How about books on dinosaurs, rocks, space, flowers, insects, taking the bus to school, vacation, annoying siblings, anything from which a child can learn about and/or identify with in her life in the real world. This kind of goes back to newmom's point (I think it was her post) about the problem with certain books in phonics programs - they make no sense to the reader!
post #46 of 103
Thread Starter 
This is an excerpt from the Christmas newsletter from a Montessori school. I think it provides a explanation on why fantasy is limited in the Montessori classroom:

Quote:
We publish this article every year.

ON NINJAS, NINTENDO AND ST. NICK

It is important to the well-being of our children for us to understand the difference between fantasy, imagination and creativity. Our confusion of these abilities can be detrimental to their progress:

Fantasy: a retreat from the real world through mental conception of unreal images.

Imagination: a way of mentally visualizing what one has learned of reality.

Creativity: imagined (real) facts are presented in an original way. Thus the exercise of a child’s imagination, expressed in role playing (such as playing house or store or imitating fixing a car) is part of the child’s desire to understand these activities. Once this desire is satisfied (i.e. she really understands how), the role playing will stop. Therefore if you observe your child role playing a situation, you can help him by teaching him as much as possible on that subject.

Everything your child imagines, he perceives first through the senses; so the better able he is to use his senses, the more he can learn and the greater his imagination. Any activity which helps him increase his discernment by sound, sight, taste, smell or touch enlarges his store of understanding and gives him a greater scope for imagination. This, then, provides the basis for him reorganizing these facts and reproducing them creatively. No one can be truly creative without a basis of facts to organize in a creative way. Piano playing may provide us with an example. A child may sit at a piano and pretend to play good music (role playing). He is given lessons. At first he imitates, then, when he knows enough, he can reorganize what he has learned in an original way and create new music.

Fantasy, on the other hand is withdrawal from reality and should not be encouraged. Children between about two and five have an intense curiosity and need to understand the world. They spend a great deal of time trying to sort out fact and fiction, and we should be careful not to confuse them. A child who doesn’t like what she learns of reality will retreat into fantasy. This should be a signal to her guardians that reality needs to become more attractive to her, so she won’t feel the need to escape.

As Maria Montessori said,

Quote:
The teacher who tries to focus the child’s attention on something real – by making reality accessible and attractive…speaks with the voice of a trumpet to the vague mind, wandering far from the pathway of its own good.
A child who spends a lot of time with animated figures, Superfriends or war toys may have trouble distinguishing which of his activities are real and which are not, and he may begin to lose his attraction for reality. A child with a diet of corresponding TV shows and video games may also have trouble keeping his imagination in the real world. These children, when they first come to school, often do a lot of wandering and have trouble focusing on the classroom materials. They learn less, so their imaginations are ill-equipped for creativity because it has a more limited base on which to build.

And as much as we hate to admit it, and much as we would like to preserve their illusions, teaching our children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or witches, dragons and fairies are real hinders their ability to discern reality and confuses their respect for us. They may all be presented as “stories” and lessons may be learned from them, but we should respect our little ones enough to tell them the truth. After the age of about six, when the child’s concept of reality is clearer, fantastic tales can be enjoyed without fear of confusion, as long as they are well-balanced with stories that help them to understand the real world. (Don’t worry! We’re not going to tell your children there is no Santa Claus. But we would encourage you to play down the fantasy, and to enjoy Santa as a make-believe figure who could teach us about the spirit of Christmas.)

Most parents recognize the harm to the children in buying war toys or games, although they sometimes find it hard to resist their children’s desires, encouraged by TV and flyer advertising and peer influence. It’s good to see an encouraging reduction in these kinds of toys and an increase in activities that encourage cooperative play. Rest assured your moral courage in saying “No” to toys with weapons and that involve fighting, and the incredible number of violent video, Sega Genesis and Nintendo games now available will be a great benefit to your child. It is difficult to teach children not to use aggression to solve their problems when they spend a lot of time practicing being aggressive. “The hand is the instrument of the mind.” This is probably Montessori’s most fundamental discovery and most oft-repeated quote. It helps us understand that, just as crawling increases thinking ability in a baby, so manipulative games, toys or building materials, such as Lego, dressing dolls, parquetry shapes – a hundred others – all help your child’s developing intelligence. Such activity should never be replaced by computer games, even learning programs, as this abstract activity simply does not contribute to children’s development until the Senior Class level.
post #47 of 103
Great thread!
Thanks so much for starting it! I have not been oneline for awhile and can't wait to read all the posts, but I just wanted to say my son was in Waldorf for over 3 years and has been in Montessori for a Year.Montessori works much better for him.From the start he was much more interested in real things.He wanted me to read him books on construction,firemen and firetrucks,planets and bugs.At Waldorf they really got on me for that saying he was too "awake" intellectualy.But he was absolutely miserable with all the fairy tales,gnomes and puppet stories! The pace in Waldorf was too slow and he was bored. I think both systems can be good it depends on the child.
post #48 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
I am currently reading this book by Dr. Ronald E. Koetzsch, called The Parents' Guide to Alternatives in Education. It is a very imformative book, discussing the foundations of and current trends in the American public school system as well as 22 education alternatives, everything from Carden to Montessori to Waldorf (I believe I read somewhere that the author is himself a big Waldorf supporter but the book seems pretty objective, on the whole).
Yes, I'm familiar with him. Koetzsch has worked for AWSNA, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, for over twenty years now. He also teaches prospective Waldorf teachers at Rudolf Steiner College. (Koetzsch also does stand-up comedy, which I haven't ever seen but friends I know who have tell me he's hysterically funny.)

The book sounds like a great resource, thanks! I'll keep an eye out for it.

Linda
post #49 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp



When she is able to go into a restaurant, look at a menu, and utter the word "hamburger" that is written in the 10th line, without ever having seen the word before and without having a picture of a hamburger beside the text, then and only then, will she be truly reading.
!
I don't quite agree with you. She has sounded out the word, but if she doesn't know what it is (and here, hamburger is not a good example) then she is still not reading.

My school district has a very high English Learner population and yet we use phonics based programs (McCraken and Words their Way) and it is a joke. My students sound like they are reading, yet their comprehension is very low. They need a rich literary/language environment or all that phonics instruction is a waste.

We just had an IEP meeting today and the resource teacher told the parent that this childs reading ability had skyrocketed this year-- in all areas except reading comprehension. She told them he is an 8th grader who now reads at a 6th grade level-- but unfortunatly, his comprehension is 2nd grade. To me, this is a child who has a second grade reading level regardless of what he is able to sound out.

I think phonics works in a child who has a rich backround of language, otherwise they are learning to pronounce words that have no meaning.
post #50 of 103
Yup, Flor. I totally agree with you, It just occurred to me cmlp that you have provided a valuable analogy in your post about piano playing:

“Piano playing may provide us with an example. A child may sit at a piano and pretend to play good music (role playing). He is given lessons. At first he imitates, then, when he knows enough, he can reorganise what he has learned in an original way and create new music.”

I think that if you can look at the whole language/phonics debate in the context of musical knowledge then you might be able to see where we, on the “balanced” side, are coming from.

Some children must be sat down and taught each note, one at a time until they can string enough of them together to create a melody. On the other hand, some children can hear a piece once and run with it, imitating and playing it from ear. It’s the same with language. Some children need that bottom up approach (phonics) and others need that top down approach (whole language) Either way it is a mistake to pigeon hole a child into a learning style without an accurate assessment of their true inclinations. (I again refer you to the multiple intellegences theory.) The truth is, when I do encounter a phonetic learner ( and they are few and far between) they are MUCH easier to teach because they require very simple, straight forward lessons.

Also, I wanted to mention that looking at a picture to help identify text is a very STRONG indicator of a skilled reader. It is called using picture clues and is a very good strategy for teaching reading. In fact, the best publisher's readers/basals for early readers take that strategy very seriously and ensure that the illustrations on each page support the text. Memorisation IS reading and from that children branch out to learn different words from the ones they are already familiar with. Environmental print is the first type of recognised literacy and is found across the globe in all nations. Do you know what the most universally recognised environmental print is with pre-schoolers world wide? The golden arches. Yes, the McDonald’s M is the first kind of “reading” that children do. They then move on to stop signs, restroom signs, etc., etc. Check it out with your kids. You’d be surprised what they can “read” all around them. I do have a source for that, but it is buried in one of my university texts in the crawl space and I can’t be bothered to go dig it out.
post #51 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22
Do you know what the most universally recognised environmental print is with pre-schoolers world wide? The golden arches. Yes, the McDonald’s M is the first kind of “reading” that children do. They then move on to stop signs, restroom signs, etc., etc. Check it out with your kids. You’d be surprised what they can “read” all around them. I do have a source for that, but it is buried in one of my university texts in the crawl space and I can’t be bothered to go dig it out.
OMG. I am embarassed to admit that ds's first letter was M and it wasn't from mama, but from the "french fry place." I ran with his interest-- M says "mm" like "mama" and "micheal" etc, it almost looks like "N" . . .


Anyway, I have been thinking about that statistic about literacy in the 40's and I am frankly not buying it. I am not a history expert in any sense, but my students are currently reading books about the 60's. I am thinking about the 1940's in Jim Crow era South with segregation and unequal distribrution of resources and the Depression and I am having trouble imagining such a high level of literacy. Remember that many Southern states used reading tests as a way to prevent African Americans from voting. If literacy was so high, I am sure they would have chosen a different way to exclude people.

UNLESS. . .

the definition of "literacy" had changed in the time between the two dates. What does the author define as literacy? Decoding? Then sure, most people learn to decode. I had 190 students last year, 100% could decode quite well, and we are a "failing school." Could they understand a newspaper article (they are 6/7/8th graders)? Well, if we use comprehension to rate literacy, then we are down into the 70 or 80 percents. My students this year are all English learners/immigrants. I'd say with the exception of 2 new arrivals, they can all decode in English quite well, thanks to our phonics lessons. Do they have any clue what we are talking about? Are they "literate" in English? I say no.
post #52 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp

Montessori uses synthetic phonics

Caroline
I was just wondering if you could define "synthetic" phonics to me. IMO, the Montessori method utilizes "whole word" as well as the "whole language" approach and is a synthesis of all styles. I say we use whole word because we always strive to have a rich environment for spoken language activities, and we do teach phonics with the sound games and sandpaper letters, and moveable alphabet (which some children use to write "whole words") Then, we work with "whole words" with the phonetic object boxes (child matches object to label), reading cards, commands and puzzle words (sight words). There are many other subsequent exercises utilizing classification and functions of words as well as sentence analysis that prove to be exciting ways for the child to practice reading. We start with small books that have just one word per page with the picture so the child is seeing familiar items with the word printed with it and progress as the child is ready to reading more challenging phrases and the sentences. Is this solely synthetic phonics?
I also would like to add this reference to illustrate the correlation between Montessori method and Multiple Intelligences. Each learning style is accomodated and given expression in the Children's House. Ideally, math is no more important than music or baking etc...

MI has made a great contribution to education because it offers a large repertoire of techniques, strategies and tools for teaching the eight intelligences throughout the curriculum as well as at all school levels. The psycho-pedagogical roots of MI theory are in Maria Montessori, Decroly and Dewey, who defend the school centered on the individual. Montessori believed that children learn through the senses. She designed a set of materials to develop the children’s awareness of their ability to make sense of their experience. In order to do this, Montessori designed didactic materials to prepare the children to acquire learning in such areas as writing, reading and math. She was also interested in the child’s abilities and strategies for every-day life.
taken from http://www.njcu.edu/cill/gardnerbook/forward.asp
post #53 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor

Anyway, I have been thinking about that statistic about literacy in the 40's and I am frankly not buying it. I am not a history expert in any sense, but my students are currently reading books about the 60's. I am thinking about the 1940's in Jim Crow era South with segregation and unequal distribrution of resources and the Depression and I am having trouble imagining such a high level of literacy. Remember that many Southern states used reading tests as a way to prevent African Americans from voting. If literacy was so high, I am sure they would have chosen a different way to exclude people.

UNLESS. . .

the definition of "literacy" had changed in the time between the two dates. What does the author define as literacy? Decoding? Then sure, most people learn to decode. I had 190 students last year, 100% could decode quite well, and we are a "failing school." Could they understand a newspaper article (they are 6/7/8th graders)? Well, if we use comprehension to rate literacy, then we are down into the 70 or 80 percents. My students this year are all English learners/immigrants. I'd say with the exception of 2 new arrivals, they can all decode in English quite well, thanks to our phonics lessons. Do they have any clue what we are talking about? Are they "literate" in English? I say no.
Here is a quote from John Gatto Taylor's book "The Underground History of American Eduction" that explains the declining literacy:

Quote:
At the start of WWII millions of men showed up at registration offices to take low-level academic tests before being inducted. The years of maximum mobilization were 1942 to 1944; the fighting force had mostly been schooled in the 1930s, both those inducted and those turned away. Of the 18 million men tested, 17,280,000 of them wer judged to have the minimum competence in reading required to be a soldier; a 96 percent literacy rate.
Then compare this to six years later when men were being inducted into army for the Korean war. According to Gatto several million men were tested, but this time 600,000 were rejected. Literacy had dropped to 81 percent. The standard wasn't high, the men were tested at a 4th grade reading proficiency. By the Vietnam war the illiteracy rate of 19 percent in 1952 had risen to 27 percent.

Another quote:

Quote:
Not only had the fraction of the competent readers dropped to 73 percent but a substantial chunk of even these were only barely adequate; they could not keep abreast of developments by reading a newspaperht ,ey could not read for pleasure, they could not sustain a thought or an arguement, they could not write well enough to manage their own affairs without assistance.
So the figures Gatto are using are from the US Army, not college admission tests, not standardized tests which can have how they are scored changed to inflate proficiency

I thought this foot note by Gatto addresses the points you make in your second paragraph. He is talking about the decline in literacy as seen through army admissions:

Quote:
The discusssion here is based on the work of Regna Lee Wood's work as printed in the Chester Finn and Diane Ravitch's Nework News and Views (and reprinted in other places). Together with other statistical indicements, from the National Adult Literacy Survey, the Journal of The American Medcial Association, and a host of other credible sousrces, it provides chilling evidence of the disasterous turn in reading methodology. But in a larger sense the author urges every reader to trust personal judgement over "numerical" evidence whatever the source. During the writer's thirty-year classroom experience, the decline in student ability to comprehend difficult text was marked, while the ability to extract and parrot "information" in the form of "facts" was much less affected. This a product of deliberate pedagogy, to what end is the burden of my essay.
In his book Gatto quotes from Regna Wood who said that back in 1952 the US Army hired psychologists to find out how 600,000 high school graduates had faked illiteracy:

Quote:
After the psychologists told the officers that the graduates weren't faking, Defense Department administrators knew that something terrible had happened in grade school reading instruction. And they knew it had started in the thirties. Why they remained silent, no one knows. The switch back to reading instruction that worked for everyone should have been made then. But it wasn't.
With regard to African-American literacy, according to Gatto the current rate in the US is 56 percent. Compare this to the literacy rate of Jamaicans whic is 98.5 percent, higher than the 83% rate for white people in this country. Do we spend less money on schooling per child than Jamaica? Are the people of Jamaica more advantaged than African-Americans?

More from Gatto which might shed light onto to this issue:

Quote:
When literacy was first abandoned as a primary goal by schools*, white people wer in a better position than black people because they inherited a three-hundred-year-old American tradition of learning to read at home by matching spoken sound with letters, thus home assistance was able to correct the deficiencies of dumbed-down schoool for whites. But black people had been forbidden to learn to read under slavery, and as late as 1930 averaged only three of four years of schooling, so they were helpless when teachers suddenly stopped teaching children to read, since they had no fall-back position.
* He provides evidence of this in the book, as do other sources I have read.

Lillianna, my DD (and DS) attends a school that bases much of its instruction of MI, and they teach Whole Language reading. I am now having to reteach her traditional phonics otherwise she will never become a truly proficient reader IMO. My child comes from an environment which is literary rich, both DH and I read a great deal and have a large varied collection of books. The children have a extensive library of books also. We are TV and video game free. I am not risking the same for DS and am teaching to read using traditional phonics to ensure he has a firm reading base that his sister obviously missed out on.

I think the term synthetic phonics is European. I did a google search and all the sites seemed to be from the UK. Here is just one that came up: http://www.syntheticphonics.com/. Here is a quote from the website:

Quote:
Quite simply, synthetic phonics is the most effective evidence-based method to teach reading and spelling! Programmes based on phonics research may vary slightly but they have fundamentally important features in common.

Why have leading journalists recently been writing about 'Synthetic Phonics' and Clackmannanshire? Synthetic Phonics is not new that is for sure. But what is new, and what makes it 'hot' news, is the fact that very few schools teach reading and spelling as per the research - even when the headteacher and staff might think they do so!

Why is this the case?

The reason for this is because teachers have been mistrained with a diplomatic mixture of reading instruction methods promoted through the government's National Literacy Strategy training and untested programmes. These have been criticised heavily by various parties, including Ofsted, since the outset of the National Literacy Strategy in England in 1998. (See the Reading Reform Foundation downloadable newsletters from no. 45 onwards.) Many headteachers, teachers and advisers do not know what is possible through evidence-based Synthetic Phonics teaching.
Debbie Hepplewhite's Introduction to Synthetic Phonics:

http://www.syntheticphonics.com/pdf%...%20Phonics.pdf
post #54 of 103
Thread Starter 
Lilliana,

In pure synthetic phonics, children learn to read using the sounds of letters rather than the names. They begin by learning to write the letter and the corresponding sounds. Then they learn to spell words. And then one day they just figure out how to read based on what they have already learned.

Dr. Montessori's approach was, indeed, pure synthetic phonics. Here is a description:

Quote:
Montessori discovered a child's natural development leads in the following progression:

First - to Spell (otherwise known as encoding)
Second - to Write (handwriting)
Third - to Read (otherwise known as decoding)

E. M. Standing in his book, Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work explains how Maria Montessori and her assistants made two sets of alphabets in cursive - one set cut out of cardboard (i.e. Movable Alphabet) and the other out of sandpaper and mounted on a little wooden board (i.e. Sandpaper Letters). Children, ages 4-5, were not taught the names of the letters, but only the sounds they represent. They were encouraged to trace the forms of the sandpaper letters with their “writing fingers” (the first and second fingers). One day a five year old made a discovery… “To make Sofia you need S, O, F, I and A.”

This was spelling, but this was not reading.

Some time later while drawing a picture of a chimney, a boy burst out full of enthusiasm saying “I can write, I can write,” and knelt down on the pavement and wrote with a piece of chalk the word “hand,” then “roof” and “chimney.” Other children started to gather round and a couple of them trembling with excitement said.” Give me the chalk, I can write too,” and they wrote various words…. It was the first time any of them had written.

This was handwriting, but this was not reading.

Montessori found that handwriting came several months before reading. For six months this group of children practiced writing, which to them became a continuous and unlimited exercise. One day Montessori, without saying anything, wrote on the black board some little sentences such as, “If you love me, give me a kiss.” “If you can read this, come to me.” For several days nothing happened. On the fourth day a little girl came up to Maria Montessori and said, “Here I am.” A short time after another came up and gave her a kiss. They had discovered communication in a new way, without a word being spoken. As she wrote more little commands on the board, the children trembled with eagerness as they read and responded.

This was reading!

As Maria, herself, reflected, “It took time for me to convince myself that all this was not an illusion. One of her teachers even commented. “When I see such things I think it must be the holy angels who are inspiring these children.”

The point in this story is to illustrate that there is a natural progression from spelling to handwriting to reading. Most often in our schools, unfortunately, we will see the reverse taught – first reading, then handwriting, then spelling.
(copied from this link: http://www.jmjpublishing.com/language.htm
post #55 of 103
Hi all!
What cmlp describes is definitely one aspect of the Montessori Method (I should add I have training from AMI). The learning approach is referred to as "Total Reading". My point is (and I still maintain) that in addition to synthetic phonics, it includes each of the other strategies mentioned (the balanced approach like Flor and NewMom22 describe). Because of the importance placed on the Spoken Language Environment and the attention to good quality literature, I feel M reflects the Whole Language aspect like LindaCL mentioned. The Spoken Language Lessons include all sorts of vocabulary games, conversations, news period or sharing table, grace and courtesy language, stories, songs and poems. This is an important aspect of the Casa in the same way as the whole language theory depends on these important experiences in addition to enticing the child's interest with books that tell important stories, have vivid colorful language and thoughtful illustrations. We utilize "whole word" when the child practises the puzzle words and the phonogram exercises because each word is associated with a picture, then classified according to words that are similar.

Thanks for the responses.
post #56 of 103
Uccomama-- your posts have really interested me. I did a quick search of my own for info on historical literacy rates and the interesting things was 1. it was hard to find anything and 2. the definition of literacy seems so different in different studies, that I can't get much useful info out of them. I am interested in how the army was testing and also, how the authors made the jump from a decline in literacy in army recruits to a larger problem pinned on phonics in the classroom. It seems like there are so many other possible explainations (like a change in the type of person who decided to join the army, for example).

Here's two things that interested me:

the 1860s and early 1870s, many southern blacks actually preferred segregated schools, especially their all-black colleges, as a means of local autonomy and independence--even though they had little choice in the matter after 1890. Many of these colleges became the primary centers of black resistance to Jim Crow, although their administrators and staff frequently differed over how best to make their stand. At the primary and secondary school levels, truly heroic efforts were made by impoverished black teachers to educate their pupils, usually in face of white resistance that often included violence. Whites were generally so opposed to black education that many states in the South refused to build black public high schools until the twentieth-century. Despite the repression, the literacy rate of blacks nearly doubled from 1880 to 1930, rising from less than 45 percent to 77 percent--an incredible climb from the less than 7 percent who were literate in 1865.

(Well, it's 1930, not 1940, but it gives a literacy rate of 77 percent. Though, how they defined literacy, I don't know) and

this guy who just has a mishmash of statistics, though none of them show a decline in literacy in any ethnic group.

http://www.arthurhu.com/index/literacy.htm

Interesting topic!
post #57 of 103
Flor, it is an interesting topic for sure!

I was only researching this to determine the best way to educate my children. So it really is just an academic exercise in many ways, but I do find it interesting how the literacy rates have declined so much and I can't help but think that those who do not have the individual's interests at heart have had a deliberate hand in all this. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, I am quite comfortable with that judgement.
post #58 of 103
Uccomama: Conspiracy theories abound about why literacy rates have declined. There are so many out there I hardly know where to begin... The same professor I quoted in the state testing thread said that the deliberate “pushing down” of curriculum (which is when governments lower the grade level of an expected curriculum expectation) is to ensure that there is a certain percentage of failure within the general population. I’m sure any of you who have seen a current high school Math textbook would agree that the expectations have, indeed, been increased. His explanation was that North American society, in particular, requires a service industry workforce that expects and will work for minimum wages. By creating a curriculum that is challenging, a school environment that is unwelcoming and not providing adequate resources for teachers to teach with the government can assure themselves that that workforce will be replenished. Do I buy into this theory? Not really, it seems too devious to be plausible, but it does create a new interesting topic for discussion!
post #59 of 103
newmom22, I urge you to read Gatto's book. It's online too. Don't dismiss devious, you just have to start delving into the medical conspiracy to see how deep and devious all this. The two are also connected.

This is taken from a speech Gatto gave to the Vermont Homeschooling Conference

http://4brevard.com/choice/Public_Education.htm

Quote:
The BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT outlines specific teaching reforms to be forced on the country, unwillingly of course, after 1967. It also sets out, in clear language, the outlook and intent of its invisible creators. Nothing less than quoting again "the impersonal manipulation through schooling of a future America in which few will be able to maintain control over their own opinions", an America in which (quoting again) "each individual receives at birth, a multipurpose identification number which enables employers and other controllers to keep track of their [underlings]", (underlings is my interpretation, everything else came out of the document), "and to expose them to the directors subliminal influence of the state education department and the federal department acting through those whenever necessary".

Readers learned in 1967, of course you and I were not among those readers, that chemical experimentation on minors would be normal procedure in the post 1967 world. That is a pointed foreshadowing of the massive Ritalin interventions which would accompany the student body of the future. Teachers were expected to function as government change agents and their trainers, ( this the first time reading this document that I realized that the expression "teacher trainer", like animal trainer, is an odd locution) the teacher trainers, were notified that behavioral science would henceforth replace academic curriculum in schools. The project identified the future as one (again I'm quoting) "in which a small league would control all important matters, one in which participatory democracy would largely disappear". Children would be made to see that their classmates, and indeed the average man or woman were so inadequate, were so irresponsible that they had to be controlled and regulated. The tremendous rise in school violence and general chaos in the late 1960's, a period when teachers and schools across the land were stripped of their ability to discipline children, might be seen as a convenient public justification for sharp constrictions of traditional liberty. Each outburst resonated through the press like a billboard for emergency measures.

According to the BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT, post modern schooling would focus, (I quote directly from the document), "on pleasure cultivation and interpersonal relationships and other attitudes and skills compatible with a non-work world". It makes sense of course, doesn't it? That irresponsible semi-illiterate people could not be trusted with much responsibility so in the new change agentry schooling, which is called for by this national teacher training document, the teacher is a therapist, translating the prescriptions of the social psychologists into practical action research in the classroom.
I believe the actual program is called Behavioral Science Teacher Educational Program (BSTEP), 1965 - 1969 if you want to google it. It was funded by the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare and was inititated at Michigan State University. Its purpose was to change the teacher from a transmitter of knowledge/content to a social change agent/facilitator/clinician.

It is a very scary document and lays out an Orwellian world. The Skinnerian behavioral philosophy is readily discernable.
post #60 of 103
I dunno about all the conspiracy theories. It places far too much sinister, highly calculated culpability with your average teacher. I've attended M. ED classes and it would have been far beyond the reach of the people in those classes to be a part of something like this. However, they were very nice people who (mostly) seemed to like children and thought they were going to make the world a better place through changing the life of one child ... watching a little too much of the "Dangerous Minds" movie trope.

As much as I agree with many of Gatto's underlying philosophies, I have not found veracity and referenced articles to be one of his strong suits in his books. He is big with the hyperbole, not so big with the verifiable facts.
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