This important deconstruction and explanation of everything that is wrong with American education today should be required reading for parents, educators, legislators, and any American who wants to see our nation survive.
Our education system, public schools and schools of education that train teachers, have been taken over by radicals. Blumenfeld and Newman say that "socialist utopians have been responsible for inflicting more pain on the human race than adherents to any other political philosophy." And that they have swept into the realm of education.
Americans wonder, "How can children spend 12 years in school and not learn to read?" Whole language, invented spelling, and permissible word substitution have become normal teaching methods. When children use these methods, which are similar to memorizing Chinese characters, they will continue to see words as little pictures. That becomes a block against seeing "words in their phonetic structure" and severely limits reading and comprehension.
The solution offered by the authors is that children must learn to read phonetically in order to become good readers, to whom reading the written word is "easy, fluent, enjoyable, and accurate." An intense phonics program is the only way to teach reading and for those who have been cheated out of it to gain literacy.
"The faulty methods used in teaching children to read can physically impair their brains," according to the authors. They quote a neuroscientist who writes, "We now know that the whole-language approach is inefficient: all children regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds benefit from explicit and early teaching of the correspondence between letters and speech sounds."
Blumenfeld and Newman attribute the rise in diagnozed dyslexia and ADD/ADHD to the brain confusion caused by whole language reading instruction and the memorization of words. The authors explain that there are political purposes involved in the gimmicks of education, like whole language and Common Core. The "purpose of whole language is to get rid of individualism. Reading is not, as whole language people claim, a social or collectivist activity. It is an individual activity."
The "cooperative learning" promoted by Common Core is really groupthink." Disagreeing opinions are drowned out by consensus. This sort of group learning helps no one; it doesn't improve the work of the low achiever and it slows down those who could be high achievers. We end up with a mediocre, dumbed down populace.
(WND Books, 2014, 352 pp., $26.95)