How does systematic synthetic phonics handle ‘Gove’ and ‘love’?

’T was brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrroll

I bet that there is a really good answer to this somewhere. But reading my Twitter feed this morning I am reminded that the BBC had an article yesterday called ‘ Reading test for six year olds to include non-words’ .

(Rant beginning)

This to me is totally bonkers and reminds me of my early teaching of ITA  … the Initial Teaching Alphabet … the idea that there was a carry over from this ‘quick start’ idea into real reading and spelling was not proven and so the initiative was abandoned. This is my hope for SSF … the supposed one-stop-shop for learning how to read.

But it is not learning how to read at all. It is a step towards being able to decode those things in our language that are phonetically based … and there is a great deal there that isn’t. Reading is something entirely different and goes deep into our psyche … it embraces a love of words and their shape and symbolism … of how writers have put them together to engage and entrance their readers. It is involved with the translation of ideas into information into pictures in our minds. If we get the early stages of this wonderful thing wrong by systematising it  then all love and joy will be lost.

There is no one great way to learn anything … there are lots of useful tools to help on the way.

Children learning to phonetically sound out different things is a good game … but please don’t confuse that with reading and please don’t have test that suggest that those that can decode can read. Think back to the Intelligence tests that many of us took to get into out Grammar Schools and how we learned how to decode the symbols … think about how we learned how to use log tables …

(Rant over)

But there is hope:

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We are clear that synthetic phonics will not be compulsory in schools but we do believe more schools should teach synthetic phonics because it is shown to have a major and long-lasting effect on children’s reading and spelling.

“We are supported in that view by high-quality academic evidence from across the world – from Scotland and Australia to the National Reading Panel in the US – which points to synthetic phonics being the most effective method for teaching literacy for all children, especially those aged five to seven.

“Too many children leave primary school unable to read and write properly – we are determined to raise standards and the new phonics-based reading check for six-year-olds will ensure that children who need extra help are given it before it is too late, and then can enjoy a lifetime’s love of reading.

The bold underlined bits are mine! Let’s just get rid of the test … I have a great belief that sensible teachers will do what is sensible for their children.

Worth reading what the mums say on netmums.

One thought on “How does systematic synthetic phonics handle ‘Gove’ and ‘love’?

  1. “…in the hope that you will comment and guide me forward….”

    Let me try to guide you forward…

    When speaking to a group of teachers, they are the least likely people to understand the importance of systematic, synthetic phonics teaching because they largely fall into a group who, as children, did not receive anything close to today’s version of systematic, synthetic phonics teaching – and yet they all learned to read and write!

    No-one is saying that this is the only way to teach reading the words on the page, but, actually, it has been shown over and again that it is the most effective and most inclusive way of teaching reading.

    Further, it is based on the design of our English writing system – the alphabetic code – albeit a complex code.

    Look at it like this, how could we choose NOT to teach our primary children the very code upon which are written system is based – but we do teach reading without it – expecting that children will be able to deduce for themselves the code of the printed word – and so many children do – like many in the teaching profession.

    The myth is that synthetic phonics teaching is the only language and literacy diet for children – and that they are excluded from practices which help to develop a love of reading and an understanding of what literature provides for us. This is a myth. The enriched language, literacy and literature-rich curriculum is just as much a part of the synthetic phonics classroom as classes pre-dating the latest push on synthetic phonics teaching.

    The thing that so many detractors from systematic, synthetic phonics teaching just don’t seem to understand is that the mixed methods, whole language, whole word, look and say – and ‘whatever’ other methods failed huge numbers of children in English speaking countries – and continue to do so. No amount of exposure to books and adults waxing lyrical about books, poetry, stories or ‘whatever’ teaches some children to read – large numbers of children are horribly failed.

    And, if children are unable to read the words on the page, you can almost guarantee that their self-esteem will be rock-bottom and that they will think that they are not so intelligent – or words to that effect. They are certainly far less likely to ‘love’ books.

    You only have to look at the statistics in English speaking countries to appreciate that this is about our complicated written code and how badly, or not at all, teachers have taught it.

    The truth of the matter is that rigorous application of high-quality systematic, synthetic phonics teaching is turning around whole schools where previous methods, and mixes of methods, failed so many of the children.

    We have also failed so many of the teachers because it is only in recent times that lecturers in the Universities are being pushed in the direction of learning more themselves about modern synthetic phonics teaching so that they can train the student teachers in the requisite alphabetic code knowledge and core skills for reading and spelling and writing.

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