Over the past decades, the decline in the rate of literacy in America has baffled many. At least 20% of high school graduates are functionally illiterate, despite the education they receive in the public school system. As these graduates enter the world reading at an elementary level, they are unable to live a normal life, which leads to poverty and can lead to delinquency and imprisonment. This decline is not only a decline of literacy, but also a decline of independence, ingenuity, and responsibility. The beginning of this decline can be traced back to a certain event in the history of the public school system: the introduction of the look say method in the 1930s. Ever since the look say method, or Whole Word instruction, took the place
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The letter is taught merely as a phonetic clue to the word—one clue among several taught as word-attack skills. In fact, the child is not encouraged to use a phonetic clue until he has first exhausted context and word-form clues. If these fail him, then he is to try the phonetic clue of the initial-consonant sound” (74). Phonetic rules are not demonstrated clearly, and looking at the context to determine the word and its meaning is encouraged. However, simply guessing what the word is only makes the child unsure of himself. Phonics and its rules are far better to teach than the look say method and its guessing.
Secondly, phonics is better than the look say method because it is far easier for the child to comprehend, conquer, and enjoy. In an article entitle “Whole Language vs. Phonics,” Sebastien Wren, Ph. D. says that the look say method is “nothing more than the rote memorization of every word in the English language” (“Whole Language vs. Phonics,” 1). The look say method basically requires the student to basically memorize every single English word in existence, an extremely difficult feat for a young person. The article “Whole Word Versus Phonics” tells that “only the smartest Chinese can memorize 20,000 of their ideograms, but Whole Word promoters expect you to memorize 50,000 to 10,000 English words. In short, Whole Word expects ordinary people to accomplish a feat that’s only possible with a photographic