Ph-ph-ph-phonics

On the Merlin John blog (MJO) yesterday Ray Barker wrote an interesting article about phonics and ICT – Routes to literacy lead through ph-ph-ph-phonics – in which he describes the support that ICT can give to the learning of reading through phonics.

Ray talks about teaching phonic skills and so enable children to read and I am not so sure about this. The learning of phonic skills can certainly support children’s ability to ‘read’ (and I am finding that I need a different definition of reading at the moment having just noticed the Boris Johnston’s recent report on literacy in London, suggested that over a million people in the capital could not read. But does it help with understanding and does having the skill bring about the joy that should be inherent in the activity.

One of the loves of my teaching time with young children was to read to them and get them excited about wanting to enter the wonderful world created by stories. I don’t see this happening in classrooms enough today and I don’t get the impression that teachers in training feel the enthusiasm that i felt nor do they seem to explore the world of books in the same way as I did. They are good at teaching phonics though … and are good at creating games and activities for the skills.

The new government has promised us a review in the Autumn … I have high expectations (hope that there are no mentions of ITA)… hope they won’t be dashed on the rocks of ph-ph-ph-phonics …

Attribution: Original image: ‘Reading Is Fundamental’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42961457@N04/4114564467
by: Troy Holden
Released under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

PS

I just love the definition of literacy in the New Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland … many thanks to Hilery Williams for pointing it out to me in her comment below:

‘the set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language, and the range of texts which society values and finds useful. A text may be seen broadly as the medium through which ideas, experiences, opinions and information can be communicated’.

So it is that ‘reading’, in its traditional sense, is only a part of the story …

One thought on “Ph-ph-ph-phonics

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I have been involved with the teaching of learners with literacy difficulties for many years and have taught my fair share of phonics. Being able to break words into their component sounds is an essential skill but not one that is sufficient to enable the development of real, passionate readers who view text as a gateway to new and other worlds.

    Here in Scotland our new definition of literacy is:
    ‘the set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language, and the range of texts which society values and finds useful.

    A text may be seen broadly as the medium through which ideas, experiences, opinions and information can be communicated’.

    So Boris’ million may be extremely comptetent in accessing information and enjoyment from other communcation modes!

    Hopefully the declutering of our curriculum will allow primary teachers, at least, to return to the wonderful tradition of reading stories to their classes for the sheer pleasure of it.
    Thanks for the post.

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