Rejecting Reading to Avoid the Magic Elixir Bolstering of the Independent Human Mind

We are making a pit stop in our discussion of the actual global vision of how to use K-12 education to create revolutionary transformations in our social, economic, and political systems without bothering to get consent. That’s some definition of democracy, huh? We are just going to talk today about reading and why political radicals do not want a widespread ability to read well anymore. If I was a sarcastic sort, I could have called this post “Literacy to Create Malleable Illiterates Via Stealth,” but since I do not have an ironic bone in my body I decided to refrain. Ooops, maybe not. I also want to dedicate the revelations I am about to volunteer to long-time UK Reading Instruction Advocate Mona McNee, who is now 91, ailing, and wondering why authorities there continue to reject her fine work that she has made freely available. This is for you, Mona.

I have explained repeatedly that it is individual perception of reality that K-12 education seeks to attack. Within the last week the World Bank in its 2015 Report was kind enough to admit to us that it is subjective mental models being targeted in case anyone wants to think that the aspirations I am about to lay out were limited to a particular time or place. Now that we have recent confirmation that this all still matters, let’s go back to the Soviet Union of 1929, the year after John Dewey’s troubling trip there that I described in my book Credentialed to Destroy . Deeply disturbed that what translates into English as Abstract Objectivism and rational views of causality and “a reverence for ‘fact’ understood not in a dialectical sense but as something fixed and stable” are all impeding the revolutions in all spheres envisioned by Marx and Engels, a VN Volosinov decided it was time for Marxism to directly alter the prevailing view of language.

Why? We all want to reasonably ask. Because the traditional dictionary view of print removes words “from the pressures of the social struggle,” which is of course not OK to an ideology that turns out to be more about historical progression through various economic stages than who actually, technically, owns what. Reading instruction, like what could go on in the classroom generally, then became a means in a political struggle with the goal being to alter “the conscious, subjective human psyche” just as the World Bank still admits is its target. Both want to get at human behavior and, then and now, Mental Models are the way in. I want to stop this historical discussion for just a second to link this to our CTE emphasis in the previous post. is called “Authentic Literacy Applications in CTE: Helping All Students Learn” and is used by SREB’s High Schools that Work and was created by one of the listed consultants, James Stone. It’s all about paying attention to context and situations as a guide to how words are to be interpreted, just as Volosinov wanted. We could even describe this vision of authentic CTE Literacy as dialectical. Again, this all may seem from far away, but these aims remain current. In fact, the book Marxism and the Philosophy of Language was translated into English in 1973 with Harvard controlling the English copyright. Alert readers will recognize that’s precisely when the World Order Models Project began as well as the Rand Change Agent Study looking into why the 60s radical education reforms described in Chapter 6 of my book did not go as envisioned.

One more fascinating detail setting up the assault of what would be called psycholinguistics or Whole Language in the West initially. In August 1977 Harvard Educational Review published an article by Lauren Resnick (creator of the terms Rigor and Higher Order Thinking Skills 10 years later and also on the Common Core validation committee. See Tag) and Daniel Resnick called “The Nature of Literacy: An Historical Exploration.” The paper states that it was financed by the US National Institute of Education and written during the Resnicks’ stay at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where so much of the other elements of Radical Ed Reform and Economic Justice theory also took place. The article argues that a goal of mass literacy is unprecedented in US history and that such a goal creates the need for a new way to teach reading.

The article does not fit with my knowledge of reading history, but the mere existence of the article becomes the cite for a new way to teach reading to be imposed on all schools, especially in urban areas. That new way of teaching reading would put the emphasis not on sounds and letters since that would be a static, fixed “concern with the cadavers of written languages,” but on understanding the meaning of words “in a particular, concrete context.” The idea was that this method of teaching reading would allow language to be adaptable and changeable and fit to be a means for altering an individual’s subjective psyche to fit with the beliefs needed for the hoped-for transformations.

It is a view of language grounded in the oral traditions of preliterate or aboriginal people where words are understood to have varying meanings depending on their use to describe real things. That’s what Whole Language hoped to accomplish back in the 70s and it’s what the Common Core’s use of the required Close Reading and the term Literacy seem to mean now. It is what Volosinov said was “understanding in the proper sense of the word, i.e., orientation in the particular given context and in the particular, given situation–orientation in the dynamic process of becoming and not ‘orientation’ in some inert state.”

Dictionaries, textbooks, lectures, traditional algebra not tied to the actual world but as an abstract tool, and systematic phonetic instruction of reading are all treating language as an inert state. None of these are suitable for a world that is supposed to be in the process of guided transformations and historical change along a hoped-for pathway. In other words, none of these instructional changes is about a better way to teach or an argument over content. At its rotten core this is about traditional practices that innoculate the human mind against manipulation from outside. That’s not acceptable anytime political authority insists it has the right to transform the mental models of the masses. That was the aspiration of Power in Russia in 1929. Unfortunately it lays behind the real aspirations in the US and elsewhere in 2014.

Volosinov said that “one of Marxism’s fundamental and most urgent tasks is to construct a genuinely objective psychology, which means a psychology based on sociological [emphasis in original text], not physiological or biological, principles.” Marxism did just that and the Soviets researched precisely how to access and impact the individual, objective psyche and in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, as again I explained in the book and am supplementing here, the US imported and translated that research. It took that Marxian objective psychology and made implementing it in the classroom to alter individual students’ perceptions from the inside-out the emphasis of education degree programs, especially doctorates. It took away the offensive, but accurate, M label and simply declared the practices and policies to be Pedagogy.

Classrooms were to be experiential and those experiences were created to alter subjective perception in prescribed ways. If there was a popular outcry, parents and taxpayers were deceitfully told this was a dispute over how to teach reading and math and that the administrators were the degreed professionals that must be deferred to. Political radicals have long understood that words and vocabulary “constitute the foundation, the skeleton of inner life” and the are absolutely determined this time to irreversibly alter it. Since skeleton has a yucky factor, the same philosophy gets better names like schema, mental models, or Frameworks. The intention is the same.

What was italicized by Volosinov as superficial phonetic empiricism is a view of language that was and is in the way of the (also italicized) unity of the social milieu and the unity of the immediate social event of communication. Must be relevant to a person in a way that engages them and tied to real world problems and active and experiential like projects would be the current update of what Volosinov sought. Language must always be viewed in context just as Literacy-in-CTE lays out now.

Abstract Objectivism as a traditional, rational, content-focused subject matter view of the purpose of education and a dictionary-based phonetic view of language quite simply “exclude any possibility for the speaker’s consciousness to be actively in touch with the process of historical evolution.” Got that? Here, quickly, are the problems with language and academics unless they are playing a role in the “dynamic process” of changing what an individual values and believes.

1) The factor of stable self-identity in linguistic forms takes precedence over their mutability.

2) The abstract takes precedence over the concrete.

3) Abstract systematization takes precedence over historical actuality.

4) The forms of elements take precedence over the form of the whole.

5) Reification of the isolated linguistic element to the neglect of the dynamics of speech.

6) Singularization of word meaning and accent to the neglect of its living multiplicity of meaning and accent.

7) The notion of language as a ready-made artifact handed down from one generation to another.

8) Inability to conceptualize the inner generative process of a language.

That last one really is a confession of the extent to which the ideological focus requires drilling down into all the mental tools any individual is to have access to. This is fascinating, isn’t it, and explains so much that was previously inexplicable.

Good thing for us that the earlier “idea of language as a system of conventional, arbitrary signs of a fundamentally rational nature [as] propounded by representatives of the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century” has not yet been completely decimated by this M view of language and academic knowledge.



59 thoughts on “Rejecting Reading to Avoid the Magic Elixir Bolstering of the Independent Human Mind

  1. The distortion of language is really key. Once you get it you see it everywhere. “Teaching and learning” is so awkward, but sort of accurate but too intentional, sounds weird, robotic. Well because it means brainwashing and enacting all the methods for such. ” authentic” means having no connection to the past or to facts. Its magical thinking.
    Kids are asked to “make inferences” when reading, odd? How bout just reading what is there? Well because that is transmission of information and according to Paolo Friere the great Wizard of social justice pedagogy thinks that that is opression. Okay. ” dialogue” means cheap talk by people who are being hoodwinked into ” participatory democracy”, which means predetermined outcome pushed through as ideas of dialoguers. Its endless.
    My daughter is in 10th grade honors english at a private school and as of today they have not read a book.
    No literature, no great works. Only snippets of social justice tripe, over and over from a book called ” mirrors and windows”. No grammer and a common core vocab book with lots of words like, opression, depression, slaughter, slavery, horrific, supremecy.
    My Christmas present from my kids is to read all the books that i buy them or that i assign them from our library at home. Thats all i want.

    • My 8 th grader is reading Elie Weisel. A paper fell out of her book it was clearly an in class worksheet she didnt hand in and it was playacting stereotypes, ironically repeating that all adults find teens stupid, lazy etc…

      The trick here is division from parents, repeat that rediculous stereotype while saying stereotyping is bad with false playacting about holacost. Imressionable 13/14 year olds. Its abuse. Fabian socialist tactics of deception implanted in curriculum teachers do not even know what they are doing.

      • Separating children from the parents …

        Just the other day I caught the school psychologist lying to the principal about my 8th grade son, saying he didn’t fix something for 4 or 5 days when actually he had fixed it at the first available opportunity on the next day. I checked first to see if the psych. was really going with that story, then said it was wrong (he was with the principal.)

        When caught in this lie, he said nothing.

        A small thing, but I cannot imagine a benign explanation for it. What else has he been telling the principal and others?

        • We have to question this institution that we PAY for pushing US parents out and using deception against our children and families. There are too many examples. We had an abusive kindergarten teacher, which when asking other parents, realize everybody had a kid mentally abused by her ( thankfully half day) but no one really talked about it or to each other. So here is a class of people all harmed by one teacher. This is how it continues because we have no oversight as parents and when these things come up most parents are confused and feel it is maybe unreal because its too upsetting. The trust factor is gone if you delve into it and then how can you consciously knowingly leave you children all day at this place?
          When you realize a change agent teacher sees themself as acheiving a greater good by their deception of our children and us, Its a mindblower.
          And when you talk to them they are confused by your parenting/obligation/concern about your child and the scurrilous idea that you know better or have ideas and values that trump theirs. They are conditioned to see us as adversaries and to use all the language chaos they can to get rid of us. Trust me, i saw it on massive scale at ed conference. I
          will dig out a document written by an ed school prof teaching ed students how to ” reframe” things so to be able to overcome ” gatekeepers” to teaching social justice math as change agents. The prof says sometimes the worst gatekeeper is the teacher themself
          ( others, parents, principles, old teachers) clearly because their conscience prevents them from the deception necessary for the job. So he gives them strategies to overcome their moral values and feelings that this is wrong. Likely similar psych strategies that are used also on the children.

    • As the book explained and John Dewey recognized, phonetic reading is a magic elixir. I have to wonder if something was said during his time there that caused the book to be written. It also fits with Luria’s interest in primitive peoples’ thought processes and later Michael Cole and Scribner’s.

      On your point on teaching and learning that we tracked to the original Russian word obuchenie, ConnectED in California has created a rather alarming Behavior of Learning and Teaching (BLT) Framework that is described in that SRI Linked Learning document. No lettuce, tomato, or bacon, just intentions just aspirations of creating Productive Behaviors and Dispositions of the desired variety.

      Some fun books your daughter might enjoy over the holidays are Arianna Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death books and her book set in Berlin in the 30s. Learn some fun history while reading an enjoyable book.

      For boys I am a big fan of the Redwall books. My son used to have me locate the next one when he got to within 100 pages of the end.

    • You are welcome. Please read the comments in the previous post where so many reached out to you to wish you well and remember your influence.

      • Probably a silly comment:

        I’ve been wondering why of all the world’s soccer teams, the ones we hear about most are Man United and Man City. We have a special show on our cable TV about Man City. They are not the best teams. I mean, unless you’re from Manchester, why would you want to be a fan of those?

        And why do they get two football clubs anyway?

        There’s something “special” going on with Manchester.

        • Manchester represents the industrializing Britain that has now fallen on hard times so maybe there is an element of the underdog in rooting for it.

          Years ago when I was General Counsel before we were bought out, we had a Board of Directors meeting in the UK (we had an English sub for people wanting diagnostic imaging outside the NHS). I flew into Manchester and then took the train to York where our meeting was. I always think of Manchester when I see a Boddington’s Beer can. My husband and a friend took one of those apart to see precisely how the cartridge worked.

          Anyway, I guess Manchester and Liverpool are both examples of British cities that have had their heydays and want to believe, much like a Detroit or Cleveland, that government planning can restore prosperity.

  2. I might add that as we watched the Whole language/sight and say program roll out of Chicago we knew that though the designers proclaimed that it was a failure as test scores plummeted within several years of its implementation, that it was indeed a success. They had proved that they could dumb down the elementary level reading ability of an entire city within 3 to 5 years.
    My youngest son paid the price and led me on my path of research, and placed Mona, Sam Blumenfeld, Hooked on Phonics, Charlotte Iserbyt and myriad others who spoke the truth, bearing the brunt of being called conspirator theory folks. The truth will out . We may never know, in our lifetimes, how many lives we have influenced or changed but can trust that we made a positive difference.

  3. When I entered first grade in Baltimore MD’s public school system in 1973 at 6 I read fluently at about a 4th grade level having learned to read at 4. They could not touch me in that regard. Unfortunately, my math skills were not as sound at the time and the New Math instruction completely short circuited my understanding and confidence in that department.

    The New Math screwed things up so badly that when I tested for the second time for a newly available spot in a private school for second grade the discrepancy between my scores one year apart in mathematics was profound. The principal asked my parents if I had suffered a brain injury. I see now that I had indeed.

    I channeled my anger into books. Reading saved me. Reading is ALL. There is no greater evil in my mind than depriving another person of the ability to read and use language as it is meant to be used.

    On a related note while ( lack of ) reading instruction is destroying minds in K-12, I am truly worried about the extent to which words are being manipulated within our culture to brainwash people and dumb them down as well. I see a multi pronged attack from schools to popular culture. It appears to me that many words are being used and repeated “contextually” in the manner you describe above Robin.

    “Sustainable” in its various manifestations is one such word. Its increasing and steady use in virtually any subject area regardless of appropriateness works almost like a dog whistle for people. Its meaning is ambiguous ( as intended ) and to most people it is meaningless but they use it because it indicates inclusion and approval. Sort of like Comrade. It also subliminally activates guilt and therefore is very powerful.

    I see the word “collaborative” used as never before in every day language. In fact I remember a time when that word carried rather pejorative connotations. Also, “Engagement” and “Collective”. Its disturbing. From the super market loud speaker to the healthcare billboard to local news to NPR to Christmas cocktail party chatter, these words are being repeated with a scary mindlessness.

    Our cultural vocabulary is being deliberately limited and narrowed. It worse than using the “wrong” word now to elucidate your point. If you do not use the approved words you are frowned upon or seen to be lacking in some moral way. Its bad enough when I see adults my age ( middle ) spout this garbage but the generations younger than us are primed for this and may never be able to escape from mental prison.

    English especially is such a rich language full of nuance and subtlety or directness depending upon your mood. Seeing how it is being reduced and made vague is in my mind tantamount to police quietly wrapping crime scene yellow tape around our psyches, warning the super ego not to go into that room to retrieve vocabulary and knowledge that might indicate they are an individual with unique ideas of their own.

      • Wow! Maybe now people will listen when I try to explain that PISA is merely a deceptive mechanism used to drive this awful reform.

        Btw, thanks for this post dedicated to Mona–from a mom who is retraining her 10 year old son to read using phonics. He’s doing really well, so well in fact that I keep catching him reading past bedtime–that’s one broken rule I can live with.

        • I remember when my youngest was in 6th grade at a new school and two of her teachers in the Gifted program asked to meet me. Turns out they were curious how she could read words she had never seen before. I was surprised, but had been through something similar with my second child who was in a hurry to learn to read because she also wanted to learn to play the piano and I told her (she was 5) she could not do both at the same time. She was in a premier private school and her teachers at the school conference asked me to explain how she was learning to read so fast. This idea of shifting to “post-literate orality” is so intact but misdescribed that most teachers tell me that they never get any phonetic reading instruction in getting their degrees. They are taken aback when they see what used to be common.

          Good for you for taking those steps while your son’s mind was ready to be taught correctly. I have a suggestion for you if he likes animals at all. Two actually. The first is Ursula LeGuin’s Catwings series. The second is the 398.2 section of the library. It is where the fairy tales/folk tales/legends are. These are wonderful adventure stories with a far richer vocabulary than chapter books because of the presence of the (usually stunning) artwork. It gets great vocabulary in the context of an enjoyable story that usually also has a great lesson to it. That’s why it survived from the oral tradition to print.

          Also I thought you might appreciate this link. Notice the admission that the goal of College and Career Ready is not a feat for the top 40% of students. Secondly, the admission that the school districts and community colleges are working together to solve the skills gap and create career pathways, but treating the collaboration as just an idea whose time has come. Not as a result of all these federal mandates we know exist.

          There is such deliberate duplicity going on trying to obscure the real adoption of School to Work for our K-12 systems and where the mandates come from.

        • JT-you should also take a look at this source which confesses that what the Common Core means by a ‘text’ is not necessarily about print.

          Notice that the need to be familiar with Marxism is on par with gay rights and civil rights as a contemporary social movement. We can wish it wasn’t so, but it is.

          I have also been working on the implications of the Text Set Project now being pushed by Student Achievement Partners and the Council of Great City Schools. Look at the propaganda behind the themes pushed as ‘science’.

          • These science topics are worse than useless. For those who will not specialize in a scientific field, it creates a false “literacy” that will make them a voting bloc that can overpower anyone trying to talk sense.

            For those who will go into science, it creates a set of habits that must be unlearned in late high school / early college if the students are to succeed.

            And I assume this is intentional. By the time people get to 11th grade or so and might be ready to start some pre-university level science, nobody will have any idea what science really is and they’ll feel it’s somehow evil and antisocial.

  4. One last thought. A year ago I read In The Shadow Of The Banyon by Vaddey Ratner. It is a beautiful book and I highly recommend it. The book is a fictionalized memoir detailing the author’s experience as a child when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia.

    One of the first things Pol Pot did ( as did Lenin ) was limit and control language to control conversation and perception of reality. In Pol Pot’s case he actually forbade the use of many words and invented his own. This was enforced at gunpoint.

    Here in the US our language and free speech are being circumvented and destroyed as well. But enforcement is not coming at gun point. Its is coming via the mechanism of internalized guilt through oft repeated words and policies of No Hate Speech, No Bullying, and Positive school Climate and Work Environments.

    The guns will only be necessary for those who refuse to feel guilt or comply with wearing the invisible hair shirt . It matches, by the way, the invisible serfs collar.

    • Mari-I am still working an the oral aspect and could only use a fraction of what I have in this post. I am about to dive into Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy as today’s light reading by the tree.

      I did a post a while back on Roberto Unger. It bothers me that RSA this week quotes him as saying “If spirit is a name for the resistant and transcending faculties of the agent, we can spiritualize society. We can diminish the distance between who we are and what we find outside of ourselves.” That is simply a different way to describe the official targeting of the subjective psyche for transformative political ends.

      If that is the aim, and it is and it becomes government policy at all levels, which it has in the US, we have ceased to be a free society. We just do not know it yet. There is a way out, but it requires recognizing the presence of the noose while there is still breathing room. That same link mentions physicist David Bohm. I have read that book and it is his political beliefs driving his assertions and not his physics knowledge. Bohm does not want grammar to be taught anymore because the stress on subjects and objects, he says, impedes the holistic perception of the world. That turns out to be straight out of Volosinov, who did die in Stalin’s purges for all of his useful theorizing.

      Love your story on the math. I went through a 150 point difference between my verbal sat and the math for similar reasons. It remained fuzzy until I forced myself to learn Singapore maths fraction, decimal, and ratio word problems so I could teach it to my own kids. I discovered I loved the puzzling through those multilayer problems.

      It’s probably good for us on the whole though because we appreciate what poor instruction can do to an otherwise bright mind and what a waste these programs are. Volosinov cites Marx as wanting words not in use or describing the ideologically desired vision to go away.

      I actually have a reproduction mahogany dictionary stand in my breakfast room. My college daughter’s best friend saw it when she visited last summer and decided her dad, a high-powered lawyer, so needed one too. I used it before I wrote this post to doublecheck the meaning of morphological because that was the other aspect of linguistics, beyond the phonetic principle of sounds and letter mapping, that Volosinov said Marx wanted to be rejected.

      I used to tell my kids that a great vocab word had a sentence full of nuances in a single word.

        • Singapore math has been revamped to fit more of this GELP vision. My books are all from before the current reforms.

          Given the implications of what I have uncovered in my research how could I not continue? Anyone who has read my book can tell why I was so determined to write it. It’s a story that needs telling in order to finally immunize us as much as possible from this vision of education as subjugation of the individual mind and personality.

          • I hear you and I understand completely and Thank You all the same. What are the chances of my finding Singapore math curriculum books from the time before the veil was dropped? Is there a publication date or edition I could hunt down? I’m really frustrated and embarrassed at times about my Math phobia. I’m an intelligent woman and I should know more math. Not knowing is ridiculous at my age with my God given in perfect working order mind.

          • When I first heard of it it was a man importing it and he took orders on his answering machine. It is the 4th and 5th grade books that are so helpful, but they built a much more sophisticated understanding of arithmetic that led perfectly into algebra going back to 2nd grade.

            I am sure they exist. I just did not want you to assume that what is currently available is the same because I have read it is not. I think the last time one of my kids let me tutor them was my youngest when she took the ssat in 5th grade. She had been in a montessori school and was not used to tests. I give her a practice test, but accidentally used the upper grade answer sheet to grade it. She was crushed. I was surprised. Realised the mistake later in the day and that she was in good shape.

            I got a “Worst Mother Ever” accolade that day. My kids like to leave breathless gaps between the words too and draw the words out. Oh. Well.

          • S. math has been revised? No wonder our elementary school was allowed to consider it as one of the choices for its math program.

            Congratulations on going back and learning math properly, Robin. I have never heard of a parent doing that, and thank God your critical thinking skills had been preserved another way and only needed to be transferred when needed.

            The way I learned to do word problems, eventually, is that every sentence is an equation. (Besides descriptive sentences and “fluff”.) The wall of separation between the real and the symbolic is porous, but making the transition is a creative and effortful act. Then the math techniques let you draw conclusions much better and more surely than a philosopher could or anyone else working in the domain of English, Spanish, etc.

    • New Hampshire’s Paul Leathers was a speaker at the June New Form of Accountability Conference where Wade Henderson decreed that we mustn’t let the Constitution stand in the way of what is desired from K-12 education now.

      New Hampshire also hired David Conley to help them create their Competency view of education.

      I have watched and listened to Wilhoit before. It is important he is in Louisville, KY now where Knowledge Works’ Strive network is based as well National Center for CTE which is involved in both the sreb and LInked Learning vision. I would and soon will argue it’s all the same vision as anyone who has read my book can likely see.

      Several years ago I heard Susan Patrick of iNACOL speak. She was the one who said Georgia’s Performance Standards were the pilot for what would become CCSS. That would explain why I accidentally ended up knowing so much. I have been at the table or in the room for many crucial admissions.

      • What is all this Accountability nonsense? Whom are we Accountable to? I didn’t know I had this boss.

        The conspiracy folks who say the US government has been taken over, or we are slaves and our social security card is our slave ID, etc. may have a point. That would complete picture.

        Because honestly, I don’t feel very Accountable to any other people. And I hope my children don’t either.

  5. Here is a simplified history of illiteracy in this country. In 1928 Dr. Samuel Orton published a famous article in a professional journal about his research on an experimental group of students using Whole Word. He said it caused illiteracy and also created mental problems. So the Education Establishment knew as of that date that everything they were planning to do nation-wide was evil and destructive. That was apparently their preference. They introduced Look-say in most public schools circa 1931-1932. (Note that this bogus method has at least 10 names, including Sight-Words, Dolch Words, Whole Language, Balanced literacy, High-Frequency Words. Do not be distracted by the different names. The common denominator is that children are told to memorize words as graphic designs, which most kids cannot do except in small numbers.) The introduction of Look-say led to a plunge in literacy levels. Twenty years later, Rudolf Flesch became aware of the problem and wrote his famous book “Why Johnny Can’t Read” (1955). This sold 8 million copies and alerted the entire country to what was going on. But our Education Establishment contained enough true believers, party hacks, and apparatchiks to push ahead no matter what the evidence, the damage, or the complaints of parents. And so the story continues to this day.

    The biggest goal in education should be to eliminate Whole Word from schools. No sight-words, period. Children should learn to read with systematic phonics (as English is a phonetic language).

    PS: Several years ago, I made a three-minute video on this same subject, titled “The Biggest Crime in American History.” I worried at the time this might be a bit of a stretch. But now I think it was exactly accurate. We can’t seem to get out from under this thing. Children in first grade are coming home with lists of sight-words to memorize. As long as that goes on, the Biggest Crime continues.

    • Bruce-I do not disagree with anything you are saying except I think it is extremely important to get at why phonetic reading had to be squelched.

      What did the originators of the squelch theory say they wanted to do if we know where to look?

      We get to discuss that reality once we find it. We have all found elements of it. I am peeling back to the political purpose of it because all the originators at some point said this was why.

      • Robin,
        The inventors of Whole Word simply announced to the world that this was the modern, fun way to learn English. Chapter 1 of Flesch’s 1955 book contains quotes from the big shots, sneering at phonics while congratulating themselves for helping children learn to read more easily. (Every bad idea in our public schools was announced with the same spiel: heretofore schools didn’t know what they were doing; but FINALLY we’ve got the right methods. Isn’t that what they basically say about Common Core?)

        I’m trying to give people the big picture, because I think that’s most useful for motivating resistance. The short answer is that the Left wanted illiteracy. (This was during the Cold War, and every little bit of sabotage helps.)

        People are so confused about education; I don’t think most of them can handle too many details. It would be quite wonderful if they all got the basic picture, that phonics is essential and sight words are dangerous. Just that could save the country. (But I have written a lot of articles about why sight-words cannot possibly work, if that would ever be helpful.)

        I just found this quote a month ago from Samuel Blumenfeld:

        “What is most critical is that Orton, in this essay, identified sight-reading methods as “faulty teaching methods,” actually accusing America’s top educators, who were responsible for propagating this new teaching method, as engaging in a form of educational malpractice. And that is why this article was never given the circulation it should have had. Indeed, the Journal of Educational Psychology was owned and edited by the very professors Orton was criticizing. And they saw to it that it never became widely known.

        “Yet, why did they publish it if it was damaging to their agenda? First, because it confirmed that the dumbing down of the American people could be produced by their new teaching methods, which was a desired outcome because proper socializing of students was now the primary objective of schools, and it was felt that less-educated students would be easier to influence than more-educated ones. Second, because they foresaw the creation of a whole new field of research and treatment of reading disability, which would prove lucrative to the field of educational psychology. Thus, it is on the backs of suffering, frustrated children that educational psychology has built its empire.”
        from: Dr. Orton’s Great Discovery

        Want to know who the baddest boys are? Just look at the officers (and most honored members) of the International Reading Association, which was formed in 1956 to combat Flesch. But so far as I can figure it out, these people do not write memoirs or confessional articles. A top ed school person told me he would send me some anecdotes from inside, but he never did.

        One of the things that has driven my work in education is the vision of these people sitting around a table trying to figure out the best way to pretend to teach reading while not teaching reading. Wouldn’t we love to have the transcripts? I think of these people as ruthless hacks, and I try to convey that in an acceptable way.

        • Well Volosinov wrote a confessional article and so it turns out did Marshall McLuhan. Right now he is blaming both world wars on the nationalism created by the mindset cultivated by print and the phonetic alphabet. What is fun about his confessions is that many of the sought outcomes are in fact being used with the Common Core. Fascinatingly he is quite sure we have the magic technology that justifies new kinds of minds, but it is electricity and magnetism.

          Leontiev was confessional and I noticed that Stephen Hamilton, who is listed as a consultant to the SREB on the CTE integration and a Prof of Human Devt turns out to also be the Associate Director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. Yes, as in Urie and the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory that is such a huge metaphor that our kids must now learn to use as a lens in Social Studies, Civics, English, and History. No indication they will be told it’s a metaphor.

          Every time I turn around I am finding the same template now. It all builds on what I picked up on in the book from Dewey and Rosenblatt’s declarations especially. If we don’t talk about the why of not teaching reading though, the why of polytech will not work nor will the determination to instill collectivist values.

          The extent to which the actual Common Core implementation dovetails with other confessions is worth talking about to some extent too.

          It always comes back every time to a determination to shut down phonetic print’s capacity to create a sense of individualism. Says so consistently in all these sources and quite frequently too.

          This actually never was a dispute on how to best teach children to read or algebra.

          Keeping this as a dispute about instruction means that the principals and administrators simply assert we have the credentials that make us an expert on instruction. Factually there is virtually no expertise in ed degrees, but it makes it a factual dispute.

          Insisting we are not teaching reading or algebra anymore because we have a sub rosa political coup going on where the Change Agents are rewarding themselves with our tax money while trying to alter a political and economic structure they have NO credentials or expertise in is a different matter.

          I think you will be duly horrified by the next post and will see we have no choice but to treat this as more than about reading.

          I had hoped to write it today but it has been a Momma-Do day.

          Sam did an outstanding job in his research. I have his book with the Trojan Horse on the cover. I think it was on the NEA.

      • We are taught to lionize the generation that learned to read in the early 30’s as “the greatest generation”. Actually they were pretty good followers. They never raised a ruckus. They didn’t cross the line. And they were well taken care of by the government and the economy.

        That’s my parents’ generation.

  6. Polarization Defines The “Reading Wars”

    It’s a persistent annoyance that educators divide so readily into opposing camps.

    This certainly does not happen in any other field where practitioners call themselves “professional”; Medicine, Engineering, etc. seem to have evolved standard practices, which on the whole govern their behavior with their clients. Why is Education so different? Probably, it’s not a real profession?

    At any rate, the Reading Wars are again flaming — this time in Australia.

    Education was an election issue during the campaign after which a new Coalition government was elected last year, replacing Labor. The National Curriculum was seen by many as having been unduly shaped by Fabianism — an active movement aimed at bringing about socialism through gradualism and permeation. Julia Gillard, once an Education Minister and then Prime Minister of Australia, was a member of the Fabian Society.

    The new government launched a Review of the curriculum and produced a Report in August 2014. Among the headlines were these two: “Australia to require the phonics method” & “Education minister orders universities to teach phonics or face losing accreditation.”

    It wasn’t long before divisions and cleavages sprang to the fore from activists within the education field.

    As one who has long been baffled and exasperated by educator lack of agreement on standard practices and the dumping of methods, which do work, I think a close look at the dynamics as playing out in Australia would be very revealing. Especially for those of us who see political groups using schools as fronts for their agendas.

    Let’s just look at one example:

    Here is a critique from a prominent teacher educator and a prolific writer of papers and books on Literacy — from a critical theory point of view (ie, leftist) — Direct Instruction is not a solution for Australian schools

    Right away the author, Allan Luke, mischaracterizes phonics and direct instruction as “operant conditioning” and “deskilling” of teachers. It didn’t take long for some commentators to strongly object:

    – Having had my mind poisoned against DI during [teacher training] I never considered it until I searched for evidence for what worked with children for whom nothing seemed to work!
    – Direct Instruction does not deskill teachers.
    – . . . mountains of research show DI to be effective when implemented well . . . DI is simply sound instruction.
    – Every year I present lectures to teacher education students and find that they are already indoctrinated with the mantra “constructivism good, direct instruction bad”. When I show them the results of these meta-analyses [Hattie], they are stunned, and they often become angry at having been given an agreed set of truths and commandments against direct instruction.
    – I am sick of DI being labeled as a right-wing conspiracy and watching failing students just getting failure as an education.

    If we could just untangle this enigma — find the real reasons for withholding proven reading methods — then maybe we can get back to teaching children, all children, the basic skills they need for fulfilling educational experiences.

    • But now what of us who’s children are now facing their entire education under this veil? Like Robin, myself, Mari and so many others our kids are in school now and we work daily to counter the misinfo and malpractice.
      I am in a constant tangle with teachers and admin about misinfo and toxic curriculum and methods. Its exhausting. These people do not even understand what they are doing to kids, they do not see it as abusive, quite the contrary they have arrogance and superiority, like they know beyond the scope of educated parents. Even peofessional expert parents in numerous field and levels of success.
      We are outliers because we know, yet our children will be the few among a society anesthetized soon before we parents may get the ship righted. How does society get righted.? The Brainwashed cult of educators need deprogramming.
      The unknown war if it ends will need alot of recovery so we are talking generations. And the Fabians will continue as they go with the communitarians waiting for another opportunity to poison. The need for distillation of this large problem for general consumption is paramount. We all know how unable to hear this our friends are. I was at Disney’s Epcot last night and i realized while waiting in a 90 minute line for a 5 minute ride that perhaps i’d found a metaphor for this war. The idea is that as you are enduring miles of schlepping, waiting in line after line, punished in pretty surriundings and distractions, they are continuously telling you how happy you are. Meanwhile the only thing you get are some illusory manufactured sensory pleasures amidst the collective masses for a huge amount of money and very sore feet. They tell you how happy you are to be at the happiest place on earth.

      • Don’t overlook the aspect that for some of the more intractable, they hated you (in the abstract) when you were a much better student than they were and they could only succeed as an ed major, now they enjoy seeing you bring all your well crafted rational arguments to them which they can simply ignore as they make your children “perform” all sorts of “authentic” things for their evaluation.

    • Hi Tunya–Australia is not just home to ATC21S and now John Hattie. from this past June shows they are working closely with Charles Fadel and the global Curriculum Redesign Project that the OECD, the World Bank, and UNESCO are all pushing with many governments including many Canadian.

      I first wrote about it here

      It is pertinent to what I am getting ready to explain although it looks like I will need to break it up into at least 2 posts now.

      I believe you are using DI as a shorthand for explicit, systematic instruction of the sounds of English and the letters that can stand for those sounds. DI is also a particular package that some of the readers of this blog have had terrible experiences with because it uses timers and tries to bypass the analytical part of the brain to respond to print.

      IIRC thaT DI came out of Oregon too.

      Like critical thinking, I have come up with other ways to describe phonetic reading instruction. The phonetic alphabet is/was considered to be one of mankind’s all-time greatest inventions before its Magic Elixir effects were deemed obstacles to collectivism and statism.

    • Tunya-

      What nonsense. So sad teachers have to put up with such parroting passing for thought.

      • Preparation For Cadres?

        All this emphasis on teams, collaboration, interconnectedness, co-operation, group-work, etc. signals to me that people are being prepared for “cadre work”.

        One of my grandsons last night at a Christmas dinner mentioned how he dislikes working in groups — that’s the only way projects are being done now. He mentioned all the flaws — lazy members, control freaks, wasted time, etc. A daughter who is taking continuing education courses in legal work also complains about the assignments into group projects.

        This is ominous. Firstly, I do believe it waters-down considerably the learning that should be taking place. However, I think one of the desired mindsets is to prepare for cadre work where members of cadres are not only responsible for a job but can be the snoops to report to higher authorities.

        Remember the fear of children in Orwell’s 1984. Why did Winston Smith fear children? Why did Mrs Parsons fear her own children?

        I am not opposed to teamwork or collegial projects if done voluntarily, mind you, just worried about young people being manipulated into peer dependency and coerced teamwork. I have another grandson who is a forest-firefighter and of course they have to work as tight-knit crews — but fully informed and engaged in their teamwork.

        My younger grandson said he was afraid to complain to the teacher about the lazy ones in the group because he feared bullying and retaliation. That in itself is scary. I don’t like all this “hidden curriculum” that’s going on.

        I had a good time in school but don’t like what’s going on now and fear even worse what’s coming down the pike.

  7. I believe we have covered the “Now is the Time” plan on gun control and violence in schools. Seeing a few new things accelerate recently in the Northwest. Project AWARE, Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education sprang from aware. We have learned projects with words like transformational are generally about changing the nature of the child, education and economy. This program incorporates many initiatives we discuss here, pbis, whole child, data collection, mental health. Guaranteed it is more about changing the lens our kids use to see the world. Interesting small detail, this program should reach children before the age of 14, sounds familiar, like the IB plan.

    • LL-notice how many of the schools described as exemplars for Character Education are IB schools in the Eleven Principles from today’s post. IB really is the stalking horse for the sociocultural Change Agent use of education. ties together today’s post, 21st century skills since Fadel used to work for P21, GELP, Competency.

      I have Fadel’s presentations from all over the world over the last several years and they are quite consistent. They love to cite a picture of Alvin Toffler on how reading and knowledge are not important now, but an ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn is.

      He also loves to quote Christian de Duve who won the Nobel in Medicine in 1974 on how “We have evolved traits (such as group selfishness) that will lead to humanity’s extinction–so we must learn how to overcome them.”

      The World Bank has joined CCR along with UNESCO and the OECD to put the link to going after mental models into the context of the Great Transition the OECD has succeeded Green Growth with.

      At least my readers know to buckle up themselves and their children.

    • This has just come out today and is global in its aim, not just the US.

      Notice that Michael Fullan was involved as well as ATC21S and GELP’s Tony MacKay. Also notice that co-author Peter Hill may be in Australia now, but he did a stint as Research Director at the National Center on Education and the Economy in DC. That ties him and this report to Anthony Carnevale, Carnegie, Marc Tucker, and Vicki Phillips of the Gates Foundation–all NCEE vets.

      Page 50 says that Oregon is the first state to integrate computer adaptive testing with its state accountability framework. Have you noticed my book makes it much easier to appreciate what a report like this is really envisioning?

      I was able to discover that Arne Duncan’s Chief Technology Officer, Karen Cator, who now heads up White House initiative Digital Promise and its League of Innovative Schools was the President of the Board of P21 when Charles Fadel created the 21st Century Learning Skills framework for them. You know the one with the rainbow?

      Also that P21 acted as a formal advisor to APEC–the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperative–to formulate the strategic plans for the future of education in China, Australia, Japan, Korea, Russia, Indonesia Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico. There’s a good reason we are all going towards the same goals and at the end of the road the vision really is that ridiculous Subjective Well-Being of All as the Goal of 21st century governments. As in having to hear again about Bhutan and the Global Happiness Index.

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