Learning to Read

Do schools and literacy groups use the best teaching methods?


The ability to read is among our most vital survival skills. But deciding how we learn to read has divided educators, parents and scholars for more than a century. Today, what decades ago was dubbed the “Great Debate” is reheating. A movement of mostly conservative critics of public schools is pushing for a return to instruction in phonics, which enables readers to decode unfamiliar words by sounding them out using sound-letter relationships. They decry the “whole- language” method - favored by many teachers and professional reading associations - which plunges readers directly into real stories and words. All agree that phonics has some role, but they disagree over what it should be. Meanwhile, both camps regret that a basic academic and family issue has become ...

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