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Life Arts

What I Learned From the McGuffey Readers

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The McGuffey Readers taught me that I hadn't learned abnormally fast, not when compared with my grandparents' generation. My classmates were learning abnormally slowly, not because there was anything wrong with them but because our school was using bad teaching methods, which had been built into our textbooks. I was not the first person to notice this problem. Rudolf Flesch's book Why Johnny Can't Read was a bestseller several years before I was born. That book explained that millions of children in the United States were failing to learn to read because schools were teaching sight words instead of phonics. This problem should have been solved even before I was born.

Today, prominent members of the educational establishment still oppose direct instruction in intensive phonics for teaching reading. They complain that phonics is "drill and kill." Yet their method of having children memorize sight words requires far more drill and leaves many children unable to read at all. The solution to this problem is so obvious that I figured it out before I finished elementary school in the early 1970s. So why don't the college graduates who are running our educational system solve this problem today?

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Laurie has worked as a medical editor and writer for many years. She is the author of Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free.

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In "exacter" sciences, the poor quality of the edu... by Ad Du on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 6:40:35 PM
forgive me for not remembering the details, but I ... by JoAnne VanDatta on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 10:09:47 PM
One of my earliest memories is sitting on the lap ... by Eric Arthur Blair on Sunday, Feb 24, 2013 at 3:18:03 PM
In kindergarten, I had the distinction of bein... by Eric Arthur Blair on Sunday, Feb 24, 2013 at 3:18:32 PM
Or should I say George? For those who don't know, ... by Laurie Endicott Thomas on Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 7:19:33 PM