Quick Bulletin: If you’re interested in finding out more about the TRT approach to reading and spelling there’s a free 20 minute video over at trtgo.com – That Reading Thing’s new online training site.
I like Michael Rosen and I suspect he’d like me too.
I love the art, magic and power of language both written and aloud. I read to my children until they were in high school.
I have no professional purpose in life other than getting young people over the humiliation of not being able to read and spell and into the world of text.
I’m suspicious of commercial educational concerns – and would be happy to disclose my finances to Mr Rosen should he like a laugh. (Though I’m hoping he would ask, wide-eyed, “But Why do you keep doing this?”)
I’m not a fan of teacher-centred-face-forward classrooms.
I’m a happy product of whacky early 70s open education.
I always question authority.
Unlike Mr Rosen, I don’t really have an interest in what goes on in primary reading instruction – except as a person who keeps meeting teenagers who don’t understand how the squiggles on the page relate to the sounds they say out loud.
Also unlike Mr Rosen, I hate polarisation and I very much wish that the parties would step back from the warfare to make sure no one’s being caught in the crossfire. So I’ll take that step back for him and the answer is…….
me – and my struggling readers. All because of phonics – because I have to tiptoe around suspicious educators who have fallen for the right/left, phonics/not phonics rhetoric.
I know it’s not only Michael (I’m sure he’d ask me to call him Michael by now) but he has become a “voice against phonics” – a cool, artistic and well loved voice against phonics. Fighting the evil Govians. He’s helped create a very strange world where the main thing that separates the Good & Right educators from the Govians is phonics.
So here I am in no-woman’s-land because I’m with him on almost everything – except phonics. You see, in 14 years of working with struggling older readers, I’ve never met one who didn’t need to know how to get from speech to print and back again. I’ve never met one who didn’t need to know that the English code isn’t chaos. Every single one of them had been failed by a system which assumed they should learn to read by guessing from context and memorising whole words.
A streetwise teenager is found crying in the toilets. Why? Because he just experienced his first ever educational success by spelling ‘fantastic’ in his first hour of That Reading Thing and can’t contain the ensuing emotions.
A Year 9 runs from the room and is found banging on the deputy head’s door. Why? Because she has spelled ‘accomplishment’ in her second hour of TRT and finally has something positive to share with him.
There are far too many young people who can’t access the secondary curriculum because they can no longer guess words from context and their memory banks are full. Please don’t make their teachers believe that phonics can’t possibly be the answer because Michael Rosen hates it.
Phonics is a tool – not a political affiliation – and it’s a darn good tool for those older struggling readers.