For years I have been telling parents and educators that the kind of reading difficulties afflicting perfectly normal children in our schools today are being caused by the teaching methods and not by any defect in the children themselves. The educators have been telling us for years now that the reason why so many children are having problems learning to read is because of a learning disability they've been born with.
In the American holiday calendar no day is more significant than the Fourth of July, in which we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That Declaration proclaimed to the world our separation from Great Britain and our emergence as a new sovereign nation, as we state in the pledge to our flag, "under God, with liberty and justice for all."
A lot of parents these days are concerned about how their children are being taught to read in school. And so they ask the teacher, "Are you teaching phonics?" Virtually every primary school teacher in America will say, "Yes, we do teach phonics," after which the parent will go home satisfied and reassured that his or her child will be taught phonics. But, unfortunately, the parent has asked the wrong question. The question that should be asked is, "Do you teach a sight vocabulary?" And again virtually every teacher will answer yes.
What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common? They all dropped out of college and pursued their interest in computer technology so that today they are among the richest men in the world. They proved that a college degree is not necessary for success in our high-tech capitalist economy. But what they did have was ambition, intelligence, inventiveness, perseverance, and a total commitment to what it was they wanted to do. These facts should be of interest to homeschoolers who have reached that point in their education where they must decide whether or not to go on to college or a university.
The 1850 edition of Noah Webster's Dictionary defines "rote" as: "To fix in memory by means of frequent repetition." That certainly is the essence of what we mean by rote memorization. My 1988 dictionary, however, defines "rote" as: "A fixed, mechanical way of doing something." That definition misses the mark of what memorization is all about. The true purpose of rote memorization in education is to create automaticity, so that, for example, when a child sees a letter or group of letters he or she automatically says the sounds. The child does not have to think about it. The response is automatic.
The idea that there is little or nothing to be learned from "Old Dead Guys" is a pretty ridiculous notion. In the first place, everything we have today was built on their shoulders. They labored and toiled, they investigated and invented, they suffered and died. There is so much we can learn by studying their lives, because they experienced it all: from birth to adulthood to old age to the final journey into eternity.
The U.S. Department of Education has created the largest computerized database of personal information on American students ever gathered by any government in history. The exact personal and intimate facts in this database are outlined in the Student Data Handbook for Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education (NCES 94-303), released in 1994. Comprised of 228 pages plus about 100 pages of appendices, this handbook can be obtained from the U.S. Dept. of Education. Send for your own copy and prepare to be appalled. Or just read this article and find out what to do.
Way back in 1947 there was a movie filmed entitled Miracle on 34th Street, in which a Santa Claus in a New York department store brought happiness to a little boy. I don’t remember the plot, but I remember the name of the movie and that it had a happy ending.
David Rockefeller, in his 2002 autobiography, Memoirs, assures us that there is no secret conspiracy to create a world government. While he proudly admits to being an internationalist, he insists that there is no secret plan to lead this country into some sort of world superstate. He also insists that those of us who believe in such a conspiracy are really the victims of “populist paranoia.” Let his words speak for themselves:
With America now experiencing high rates of functional illiteracy, it is obvious that there are many individuals in our society in positions of responsibility who are functionally illiterate. The late, lamented Nelson Rockefeller, former Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States, was “dyslexic.” Movie personalities Tom Cruise and Cher are “dyslexic.” There is no doubt that these three intelligent individuals were the unwary victims of the look-say reading instruction they got in primary school. Nelson often joked about the fact that he couldn't read because he had attended a “progressive” school.