Ask For The Old Paths
Posted by Hal in teaching boys

God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way [is], And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

That’s spiritual advice, but it’s wisdom to consider in everyday things, too.  Here’s a story from Britain that says the old way of teaching kids to read actually works better for boys:

Boys can learn to beat girls at reading if they are given old-fashioned teaching methods, claim psychologists.

The use of more traditional phonetics-based lessons helps boys catch up with girls – even doing better on some tests – and prevents some children from needing ‘special’ schooling, according to new research findings.

A study of synthetic phonics also found children from disadvantaged backgrounds do as well as those from better off homes.

The research, presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in York, has underpinned changes being made in the nation’s classrooms.

They have been introduced after damning revelations that four in 10 children have failed to master the three Rs by the time they leave primary school.

There has also been concern about the growing gender divide in achievement, starting in primary schools.

The rest of the story from the London Evening Standard is here.

The story compares groups of classmates with each other, but I’ll bet they also found that all children, boy or girl, do better at reading when they learn phonics.  I learned to speak a little Mandarin but I’m totally illiterate — the only recourse is to memorize symbols one at a time.  That’s not very different than the “look-say” methods used in a lot of schools over the years–don’t sound it out, just remember the shape of the words.  I’ve known college graduates who were taught that way and still struggle to read unfamiliar words.  Why did we ever think kids would benefit from learning English as if it were Chinese?