Sent to the Telegraph (UK), June 10.
In “Children will learn to recite poems by heart from age of 5,” (June 10), we are told that schools in England will put greater emphasis on spelling, grammar and phonics instruction in order to insure that children “leave primary school with a strong command of both written and spoken English, with high standards of literacy”.
Education Secretary Gove and his staff are clearly unaware of some very well-established results: (1) studies done over the last 100 years show that spelling instruction has very little effect on spelling accuracy; (2) studies done over the last 100 years show that the formal study of grammar does not improve students’ reading and writing; (3) studies done over the last 25 years show that systematic intensive phonics study only helps children do better on tests in which they pronounce lists of words out-loud. It has no significant effect on tests in which children have to understand what they read.
The best way to make sure students “leave primary school with a strong command of both written and spoken English, with high standards of literacy” is to encourage wide self-selected reading, which is only possible when all children have access to reading material.
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
original article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9322343/Children-will-learn-to-recite-poems-by-heart-from-age-of-5.html