Predicted Levels of Illiteracy
I am rarely shocked by statistics on education. However, an article on illiteracy in the Independent 8 years ago, left a strong impression on me:
As a nation, we have been involved in sending a man into space, and yet we cannot overcome the simple problem of illiteracy.
How can this be? How can an advanced industrial nation, which spends millions of pounds on education, be so complacent about failing 1.5 million youngsters? There is no justification for this and one of these youngsters might be your child?
Illiteracy is Easily Overcome
There have been many attempts made in the past to overcome illiteracy, but I know from experience, that these plans have largely failed some children. However, I also know that I can teach a child to read in just 12 hours of precise teaching, followed by precise practice.
Children are in junior school for 7 years, attending for 6 hours every week day, for 39 weeks a year. Surely, we must use 24 of these hours to teach them all to read!
What do Educational Psychologists say about illiteracy?
I have read many Educational Psychologists’ reports on struggling readers. In my humble opinion these reports say much the same thing. Here is a selection of their comments. They tell parents that the child in question:
I think the causes of illiteracy are written into every one of these reports. Educational Psychologists make it clear that children don’t learn to read, when they fail to master the basic skills that are essential for reading. They also comment on some children’s inappropriate preoccupation with rules, mnemonics and rote learning.
Future attempts to eradicate illiteracy are likely to fail, unless notice is taken of the work of Educational Psychologist, and poor readers are taugh these essential reading skills. Offering more rules, mnemonics and rote learning will not work for these children.
Since publishing this article, I have become very concerned by the impact Covid has had on eduction, and in particular, on literacy. Children now is Year 2 and 3. In particular, have had a very disrupted experience of school.
Reception and Year 1 are the years when most children learn the basics of reading. If children are struggling, it is usually evident by Year 2. This is a bigger problem post-pandemic
What would an effective reading system look like?
I am answering this question with a series of Blog posts. Initially, I look closely at each of the points Education Psychologists make in their reports, and suggest how we can learn from them. I also include Case Studies, and offer solutions to some of the problems faced by parents of struggling readers.
‘Please Help Me! I Really Can’t Read!’
Finally, I have written an updated version of this book on the subject of literacy, which will soon be published.
In this book, I take the findings of Educational Psychologists and say simply ‘Here is the solution’! In other words, this is a simple way to overcome the problems faced by struggling readers.
Next Blog: I look at the first problem identified by educational Psychologists, ‘tends to misread small words’.