28 mars 2012

"Whole-language instruction" (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

A phrase denoting an approach to the teaching of reading that emphasizes the joy of good literature and avoids drill-like instruction in letter sounds. In theory, the method is supposed to motivate children by emphasizing an interest and pleasure in books, and by encouraging students to learn reading holistically, just as they learned their mother tongue-as a "psycholinguistic guessing game." Some children do learn to read under this method, but many do not. 

"Whole language," like "outcomes based education," has grown and spread far beyond its initial confined meaning to become a philosophy of life and teaching, muddled by pseudopolitical associations. The term has become so vague, and so colored with nonpedagogical overtones that it could profitably be dropped entirely from use. After large-scale experience with its unsatisfactory results, especially in California, some former adherents of whole language now advocate a "mixed" approach in which some letter-sound correspondences are taught explicitly. No well-regarded scholar in the field of reading now advocates an approach that neglects phonics and phonemic awareness. Many experts believe that with proper instruction nearly every child can read at grade level by the end of first or second grade. 

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

"culturally-biased curriculum"
"outcomes-based education"
"research has shown"


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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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