The emerging group in our population who have a low ability to read is a disgrace to our education system.
Do we have private, chartered and integrated schools who push illiterates on to the state schools?
It’s obvious that reading is an essential skill needed by citizens in this modern computer-ridden society.
That skill of deciphering squiggles on a page to produce language has not changed for thousands of years and the teaching of reading must be honed to perfection by now. So why are children going through years of school and still leaving unable to read?
There are several answers. One is genetic where some human brains are unable to differentiate the many squiggle shapes (dyslexia). Another is where children are not exposed to quality language and books in the company of an adult. Another is the lack of systematic teaching of the skill through neoliberalism’s effect on teacher competition.
Learning to read takes time for some children while others with brain and/or parent advantage pick it up quickly. The skills needed for reading English are many and thus teachers need to cover them all. They are: whole word recognition, especially the hundred most-used words. Alphabet sounds (which can ignore some letters) so the initial letter of an unknown word can give a clue to its context use. Use illustrations as a clue to content. Phonics which apply to groups of similar structured words although there are some exceptions.
So if we know that acquiring all these skills produces a literate person, that is one who expands their knowledge through reading books etc. And this has worked for hundreds of years, why is our public school system failing some pupils? Could the training of our beginning teachers be inadequate?
Peter H Wood