Changing the way we read and write

Language is fluid.  Sometimes people are stuck in this idea that it is a solid never changing thing.  The truth is that it is always changing.  That is why you have languages that are latin in origin, where once there was a common spoken word, now it is the root of many languages.  The thing is that in the past language has been for the most part a spoken thing.  Only a few limited people could read and write.  Then we went to this point of formalizing the written word and here we are today with the same or similar spellings for words that have appeared in the dictionaries for a couple of centuries.  The problem is that language of course is fluid and ever changing, so while our spoken language has changed the written language has not.  Not really.

Now imagine teaching reading to every single child in the USA.  A goal that is only now  a part of the American Education.  Nationalized testing and standards require that every single child master this task.  One problem with that is that it is a hypothesis that has not been tested – Can everyone in the US actually learn how to read?  Maybe there are exceptions.  The brain after all is a complex organism that we have only just begun to understand.  We also only test for reading and math skills.  I see countless students who excel in music, acting, dancing, and art but are getting resource in reading and math.  What of that part of the brain which serves humanity with out these little sound symbols, and number symbols?

I am not a certified reading teacher, I am certified in art.  But as an art teacher in a world that values only the skill of reading and math I am forced to utilize my teaching skills to assist children in learning how to read too.  They gave up having me teach math when I basically found myself unable to teach some of the concepts, plus I adamantly asserted that memorization is important and no matter what they told me recounting 2 x 3 every single time was stupid.  No I will not ask a kid to write out 64 circles when he is multiplying 8×8 just remember it is 64 every single time.  EVERY SINGLE TIME.  Okay sorry got off track there.  Apparently memorization is child abuse now.  As are red pens.  Oh you think I jest do you? HA! Think again.

As I try to teach the English language, the written word to children I have come to the conclusion that we need to revise the spelling of our language to accomodate the pronunciations that are actually used in words.  We need to eliminate dual sounds for vowels.  A should always be AYE.  E should always be EE.  I should always be EYE. O should always be OH and U should always be YOU.  So when we are saying A as an AH sound we either need to add an H or find another symbol.  E should be eh, I should be ih, O should be  OW and U should be uh.  Any other vowel sound that we try to make should be thrown out.  Soh ihf we ahr writeng a wurd we shuld spehl iht how iht sownds.  It will be a difficult transition.  But I think we need it.  The kids need it.  Why do we have to stick to this spelling of words that has been formalized?  Let the language be fluid again, and then just maybe more of our students will be able to figure out a word.  Becuase right now sounding it out doesn’t work.  The words don’t sound how they are spelled.

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3 comments on “Changing the way we read and write

  1. Does the phonics approach work any more effectively than what you’re currently required to ‘use’?
    I know I learned reading via two things–being read to as a child AND the phonics work in school. I recall those learning exercises with very strange clarity. Perhaps because it was of vital interest to ME–yes–I was interested because while parents read–it was sporadic and inconsistently done and I wanted to know what those things under the pictures were ‘saying’. I recall the books too–fairy tales–because they were the only ones my parents ever purchased. still, by the time of school I knew a great many written words on sight.
    Now, I wonder how my learning experience fits into your teaching paradigm and experience. Does it help you in any way?

  2. Eva,

    It seems that what we did in school is out dated and doesn’t exactly work anymore. I guess. To be honest there are an awful lot of teachers saying “hello this isn’t working” and a lot of administrators saying, keep doing it, its research based. Education is a mess, and it honestly is not the teachers fault. (mostly)

    • Oh I am well aware that education is a mess. I dealt with the endproducts of the ‘system’ and I have no respect for it. I think I will re-post an older writing on education instead of dropping it all here. Been thinking of it anyway due to the news–which is driving me up a wall on this topic. Yes, I’ve ‘undone’ the work of the system very effectively and am damn PROUD of it. So proud that it just might be time to return to teaching–in the right place.

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