Only US school can help our son

On June 29, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Dare

A MELBOURNE family is moving to the US for “emergency education” because it believes the Victorian school system has failed their 11-year-old son.

The autistic boy is from one of at least nine families suing the Education Department through the Federal Court for discrimination and what they claim is inadequate education.

For more, click here.

    …Mr. Malloy has faced more than his share of personal and professional trials.

    Because of his dyslexia and other perceptual and motor-function problems, he said, his teachers thought he was retarded until he was in the fourth grade. But he developed compensatory skills like a capacious memory, he said. Mr. Malloy, however, still does not write or type and almost never speaks from a prepared text…

For more, click here.

Schooling the Gifted Dyslexic Child

On June 21, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Dare
    Despite the dyslexia that throttled his reading and early schooling experience, Zach Nathan displayed extraordinary talents in areas like science, computers, and creative writing. A long journey of discovery led his mother, a seasoned professional educator, to home-school Zach and later write an inspriring book about the ins and outs of raising a gifted dyslexic child. A special guest entry by Karen Nathan, Ph.D

    “My son Zach, who is now 30, was my inspiration for writing Dyslexia with Gifts and Talents. When Zach was in middle school, I was an instructor in the college of education at our branch campus of a state university. We emphasized to our teacher-interns the value of using multiple methods to reach students with diverse strengths and weaknesses, the importance of providing appropriate accommodations including a variety of ways for student evaluations; and above all, the need to be respectful and encouraging to every student in their classrooms. The irony was that many of my son’s teachers seldom met these teaching standards. In eighth grade, Zach was so miserable that I began to home school him.

For more, click here.

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Legislative Update: Ohio House Passes New Dyslexia Bill

    Ohio HB 96, which was passed on May 24 by a resounding vote of 94 to 1, includes dyslexia in its definition of learning disabilities, and will allow for students with dyslexia to be included in the list of students who are given special instruction at school.

For more (courtesy of Learning Ally), click here.

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Four Reasons Why Educators Hate Geography
By Bruce Deitrick Price

Summary: when you understand why educators scorn geography, you know all the reasons why American public schools keep getting dumber.

It’s easy to point out that public schools don’t teach much geography. Explaining why is more complex. Here are four reasons why our Education Establishment scorns geography:

1) THEY ARE ANTI-KNOWLEDGE: For more than a century, there was a prejudice among our top educators against foundational knowledge (that is, basic facts everyone should know). John Dewey in 1897 preached: “We violate the child’s nature and render difficult the best ethical results by introducing the child too abruptly to a number of special studies, of reading, writing, geography, etc….The true center of correlation on the school subjects is not science, not literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activity.” Note that Dewey slams geography twice, just to be sure.

2)THEY ARE ANTI-HISTORY: Our so-called educators also scorned history. In 1929 two of the biggest (Thorndike and Gates) echoed Dewey when they decreed: “Subjects such as arithmetic, language and history include content that is intrinsically of little value.”

Of little value? When people know history, they can make decisions and deductions about where they came from, how other societies handled similar problems, and how we should respond to challenges now.

But our elite educators wanted uninformed, dependent children who would fit better into the new Socialist world that Progressive Educators hoped was coming. These ideologues wrapped history inside a containment-device called Social Studies, suppressing as much of it as possible, and making the rest shallow.

Geography and history go hand in hand. Diminishing one hurts the other. You can’t study history if you don’t first learn the names of oceans, rivers, states, mountains, etc.

3) THEY ARE ANTI-READING: starting in 1932, American public schools taught reading with a bogus method variously called Look-say, Sight Words, Whole Word, etc. This gimmick required that children memorize the English language one word-shape at a time. A long, slow process.

Look at Dolch lists for fourth grade and you find easy words like “bug,” “sea,” and “pen.” What you don’t find is a single proper name or place name. The pretext for the phony Dolch lists was that these were the most common words, and in learning these words, the child was advancing rapidly toward literacy. But when does a child learn to read words like Nevada, Texas, Chicago, Hawaii, or Kansas, not to mention Benjamin Franklin?

Geographical names, anywhere in a child’s life, would provide a warning bell that this child did not actually know how to read. How could the schools silence that warning? Geography must die.

4) THEY ARE ANTI-PRECISION: the most striking thing about geography is its intellectual purity. A city is in a certain location, it has a particular name, and there are many specifics one can learn about that city.

In geography, there is no ambiguity, no vagueness, no fuzziness, no aspect where one could say, well, you should guess. In short, geography is everything that progressive educators hate. Consider that the capital of France is Paris. There is no way Constructivism can construct this. No way Self-Esteem can pretend you know it when you don’t. No way that Cooperative Education will make it easier for children to know this fact. No way to think “critically” about this fact. It’s just a fact. It is.

(Properly, a student starts by learning many little nuggets of information. At some point, the student can discuss these facts, compare them, relate them, and prioritize them. That’s what critical thinking is. This phrase is meaningless, however, unless the student first learns many little nuggets.)


Geography is a foundation not just for history but for the study of geology, anthropology, archaeology, world trade, finance, government, environmental science, military history, surveying, early mathematics, and much else. Any school that skimps on geography is a phony.

Francis Parker is a famous educator who died in 1902. I want to close with a quote from his book “How To Teach Geography” (1885). Probably you never heard a teacher rhapsodize about ANYTHING the way Parker can carry on about a topic that many think is dull and dry:

“Geography explains and illuminates history…To know and love the whole world is to become subjectively an integral factor in all human life; the resulting emotion arouses the only true patriotism, the patriotism that makes the world and all its children one’s own land and nation. Geography is one essential means of bringing the individual soul an appreciation of the universal and eternal.”

We need more geography; more precision; more foundational knowledge; and more passion for learning. We need a lot less of the foolishness that undermines these four.

(For related analysis, see “43: American Basic Curriculum” on .)

About the Author: Bruce Deitrick Price is the founder of, a high-level education and intellectual site. One focus is reading; see “42: Reading Resources.” Another focus is education reform; see “38: Saving Public Schools.” Price is an author, artist and poet. His fifth book is “THE EDUCATION ENIGMA–What Happened to American Education.”


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Literacy neglect (Townsville, QLD)

On June 10, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Dare

Why are there so many suspensions from schools because of disruptive students? Why all this commotion because students are asked to complete a few basic tests in reading, writing , spelling and basic maths? Why are grandparents being asked to go into schools to help teach reading? Why is there so much truancy from schools? Why have we so many suicides especially by young men? Because our school system has failed to teach what is the right of every student that passes through it, to read, write, spell and do maths; to be able to communicate competently with their fellow man.
If they can’t read the text book or instructions from the teacher, or write a decent sentence to communicate their thoughts to another person there is not much point in going to school and if they come out of school without these communication skills, as more than 30% do, their lives are virtually over. They can’t fill in forms, read signs and instructions, get work or read anything for pleasure and are reliant on all the lies and advertising put on the TV. Have you noticed how the papers and magazines are full of pictures and very little news or fictional writing? Schools were instituted in the first place to teach everyone to read, write, spell and do maths enabling everyone to reach their potential and follow whatever path they chose in life. Even with computers these basic literacy skills are still needed and first and foremost teachers should be teaching these skills to their students but unfortunately teachers have been indoctrinated at university with the idea that students will teach themselves if given enough clues and immersion in these skills.
Up to the 1970’s most people learned to read, write, spell and do maths who went to school but teaching was not classed as a profession. In order to gain academic qualifications a person had to come up with new ideas of teaching and based on the idea that babies learned to speak by seeing, hearing and modelling by others, students should be able to learn literacy skills in the same way; hence the theory of ‘Whole Language’ was born. Because it seemed a much easier way of teaching literacy skills by getting the students to teach themselves, it was implemented in the schools more than 40 years ago. At the same time formal testing was abandoned ‘because it was too stressful for the students’. As a result children were not acquiring literacy or maths skills because similar new unproven ideas were being implemented in maths as well, and nobody knew what was going on until students started coming out of the school system without these skills.
Children have to be taught the underpinnings of the English language. The relationship of the symbols to the sounds we make when we speak and how they go together to make words. How little words or syllables go together to make big words and a few other rules of spelling and in a very short space of time students are able to start reading (The Writing Road to Reading. S. Norsworthy. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities. Vol.4 No.3 Sept 1999) The same with maths – first teach addition then subtraction while starting to teach the times tables so that they are ready to learn to multiply and then divide. With these basic skills they are then able read, write and to solve problems.
In less than 30 hours tuition, classes and individuals have acquired literacy and numeracy skills using these concepts that I have outlined and it is an absolute disgrace that the school system can’t teach and ensure that all students are able to acquire these absolutely essential skills. Until academics in the universities abandon this mishmash of ideas and theories and go back to training our wonderful teachers and equipping them with proven methods of teaching these basic skills, this educational abuse will only continue. We are an illiterate society at the moment with all its attendant woes but the answer rests in the fact that all students need literacy and numeracy skills to release their presently untapped potential.
Lilian Malcolm,
34 north Beck Drive, Condon, Qld., 4815
Phone: 07 4773 3197. Email:

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Interesting Article from the UK

This article states that literacy is much harder to obtain in English compared with more transparent languages such as Italian.

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Published on behalf of the Simplified Spelling Society
by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd. London.
January 1941. First published December, 1908.

We are permitted to make the following extracts from a lecture entitled “The King’s English: from Alfred to Edward VII,” [1] delivered by our first President, the Rev. Professor Skeat, in April, 1902, on the occasion of the Alfred the Great millenary celebrations at Winchester.

“In Alfred’s time,” said Professor Skeat, the English language was unknown to all but the inhabitants of England, and a small part of Scotland. Now it is more widely spoken than any other. … When Alfred set himself to revive learning in England by superintending translations (from Latin into the vernacular language) of the ‘Ecclesiastical History’ of the Venerable Bede, the ‘History’ of Orosius, the ‘Pastoral Care’ of Pope Gregory the Great, and the ‘Consolation of Philosophy’ of Boethius, he could never have guessed that the language which he thus fostered would predominate in a new continent, the very existence of which was unknown until six hundred years afterwards.”

The lecturer then proceeded –
“The history of the English language is one of the most fascinating and inexhaustible of all subjects, yet the number of students who have even an elementary knowledge of it is remarkably small. I know of nothing more surprising than this singular fact. The history of English is just the one thing which hardly any schoolboy knows. Very often he can tell you the difference between one ancient Greek dialect and another, and can explain how the speech of Herodotus or Homer differs from that of Thucydides; but to discriminate between the English of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ and that of Barbour’s story of King Robert the Bruce is wholly beyond him. He can translate a piece of Cicero or Livy, but can make nothing of a sentence in King Alfred’s own words. Just as the schoolboy is taught to look with reverence upon every Latin and Greek sentence, so is he, in only too many instances, left to his own devices as regards his native tongue. When he grows up, he often remains of opinion that the only languages worthy of study are those which are commonly called ‘classical,’ obviously with the view of prejudicing learners against all others. Yet even in the teaching of that most useful and indispensable language called Latin, the most lamentable habit still prevails, [2] of carefully suppressing all reference to the spoken sounds of the language, and even of encouraging the belief that the Romans in the time of Caesar took their pronunciation from the English inhabitants of London in the twentieth century. … I do most fervently hope that one of the subjects introduced in this twentieth century will be the study of phonetics, including the history of the adaptation of written symbols to spoken sounds. Whenever this is done, the study of languages will enter upon a new phase, and all will be brightness and light and knowledge where at present there is a dense and most discreditable gloom.”

Professor Skeat went on to show that “the chief points in which Alfred’s English differed from our own are these:

(1) There is a difference in the dialect employed.
(2) There have been great changes in the pronunciation.
(3) There have been great, yet wholly inadequate, changes in the spelling.
(4) There have been great simplifications in the grammar.
(5) There has been a great enlargement of the vocabulary.”

We reprint entire that portion of the lecture which, dealing with the second and third of these changes, is germane to the work of the Society.

“The second point is that, in the course of a thousand years, great changes have taken place in the pronunciation; a proposition which is true, to some extent, of all the other languages in Europe. Of these, the two which have changed most are English and French; and one result is that, in both these languages, the spelling by no means accords with the pronunciation. In both, the forms at present in use frequently represent the sounds of words as they were pronounced several centuries ago. In particular, the sounds of the vowels have so greatly changed that only one of our English long vowels, the second one (e), is a pure vowel at the present day; all the rest have become diphthongs. In Anglo-Saxon the sounds of the five principal long vowels were the same as in Latin and Italian, viz. a, e, i, o, u (pronounced as in Italian). But the old a (ah) is now ei (ei), being pronounced like the diphthong ei in eight and vein. The old e is now pronounced like the ee in feet, which is a pure vowel indeed, but not the same one as at first. The old i, once like i in machine, is now the diphthong heard in bite, not far removed from the ai in Isaiah. The old o, once a pure long o, has now a slight after-sound of u, thus producing the diphthong written as ow in know. The old u, once the u in rule, is now usually a diphthong when not preceded by an r, as in mute or tune. At the same time, changes too numerous to be here noticed have taken place in the sounds of the consonants. One of the most extraordinary of such changes is that the old Anglo-Saxon guttural sound of the medial h, though still represented in our spelling by gh, is either lost (chiefly after a long vowel) as in plough, bough, dough, high, sigh, and the like; or else is exchanged for f (chiefly after a short vowel) as in rough, and tough, and enough. The sound in Anglo-Saxon was that of the German ch in nicht or Nacht; and there can be no doubt that it perished because the Normans, though they were determined to learn English, disliked this sound and wholly failed to master it. The chief reason why modern English spelling is a complete riddle to all but a few students is that modern Englishmen are, as a rule, wholly ignorant of the pronunciation of Latin, of Anglo-Saxon, of Anglo-French, and of Middle English. As a rule, they do not even know that our spelling has a history; and all that they can do is to try to ignore the facts. The strange thing is that they very often feel no interest in the subject, and look upon it sometimes with undeserved contempt. To know all about the correct placing of Greek accents, or the quantities of Latin vowels, is respectfully recognized as a mark of scholarship; but to feel any interest in the history of our native language is often regarded as a superfluous meddling with matters of purely antiquarian interest, such as is only pardonable in an enthusiast. Yet some of the results are certainly curious. To take an example, we actually pronounce go as ‘go,’ but if we double the symbol, by writing two o’s instead of one, we no longer prolong the o sound, but employ quite a different one; so that whilst writing too or soon with two o’s we pronounce them so that the long vowel has become like the long u in rule. One would think that a fact so singular would excite curiosity; but fashion steps in, proclaiming that the study of English is useless or vulgar, for, after all, it is merely our native language; and only the classics can confer ‘culture.’

“Once more, we spell oak with oa, and broke with o, and no one cares. It is looked upon as a meaningless eccentricity. But if anyone should dare to say, ‘Then let us by all means disregard it, and spell both words alike,’ the cry is immediately raised that the spelling is sacred, and must be kept up in the interests of etymology. The retort is obvious, that in that case the etymological meaning of such spellings ought to be studied. But no; Englishmen will not do that either. They are only satisfied with their spelling as long as they feel that they must helplessly acquiesce in it. They refuse to change it, and they equally refuse to understand it. Let us all learn it by rote, like parrots, is the parrot-cry heard around us; and with that we are commonly content.

“But let us look for a moment at such words as they were used by Alfred. Instead of oak, he pronounced it ?c (aak); whilst instead of broke, he used the full form brocen, pronounced nearly as brokken, with a short o, that has since been lengthened and made closer in sound with a light after-sound of u. So in other cases, we shall usually find that the modern oa corresponds to Anglo-Saxon ? as in r?d, a road; w?d, woad; g?d, a goad; t?de, a toad; ?tan, oats; g?t, a goat; b?t, a boat; s?pe, soap; l?m, loam; f?m, foam; hl?f, a loaf.

“Again, we write the verb to heal with an ea, but the substantive heel with double e. This is because the words, though now sounded alike, were once sounded differently; and even to this day, it is not uncommon to hear in Ireland a distinction made between sea, pronounced say, and the verb to see. The words now spelt with ea had once a very ‘open’ sound of the vowel, and often appear in Anglo-Saxon with long æ, as distinguished from long e; the sound of the former being much more open.’ Or again, we find a like distinction made between the Anglo-Saxon ?a and ?o, the former producing the modern ea, and the latter the modern ee; as in ?ast, east; l?af, leaf; str?am, stream; b?an, bean; and, on the other hand, b?o, a bee; thr?o, three; fr?o, free; s?o, I see; d?op, deep; cn?o, knee. These examples must serve, for the present, to illustrate some changes in our pronunciation.

“Thirdly, there have been great, yet wholly inadequate, changes in our spelling.

“The usual idea current amongst Englishmen, due to an almost total ignorance of the subject, is that the spelling of old English is lawless and worthless. But all depends upon the date. Of course the spelling of modern English is hopeless enough, but it differs very little from that of the sixteenth century, when it was to a large extent phonetic, but by no means accurate or careful. The spelling of the fifteenth century is not much better, and it is often from this spelling, as seen in old printed books, that some people form their notions. But when we get back to the manuscripts of the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, the case is greatly altered. Many manuscripts are carefully spelt upon true phonetic principles, so that it is often perfectly easy to read them rightly, and to pronounce the words as they were meant to be pronounced, in accordance with the symbols employed. This certainly cannot be done in the case of modern English, where the same symbol means two or three different things, so that children have to be informed that, whilst go rhymes with so, do rhymes with too; and that, whilst toe rhymes with go, shoe rhymes with do. In this particular Alfred’s English was immensely superior to our own. When an Anglo-Saxon word is properly written down, there is only one way in which it can be pronounced. The spelling was phonetic; that is to say, a particular symbol meant a particular sound, and no other. The sound might vary according to what precedes or follows the symbol; but if the whole word is placed before you there is no ambiguity. This is, of course, the principle upon which the excellent Latin alphabet was originally founded, a principle still preserved in some modern languages; as, for instance, in Welsh. Englishmen often try to raise a silly laugh over Welsh spelling, in entire ignorance of the fact that it is immeasurably superior to their own. The only doubtful letters in Welsh are e, u, and y; there never the slightest doubt as to the meaning of the symbols for the consonants. You have only to realize that we must not judge them by modern English standards, and they are then easily learnt. It does not matter that the sound of oo in boot is written in Welsh as w. What does matter is, that this Welsh symbol w should never mean anything else; and it never does, unless when it is shortened to the sound of oo in good, which is of no great consequence. We do far worse things than that.

“After the Norman conquest, our manuscripts continued to be spelt phonetically, that is to say, correctly, for some time. But, as time went on, many of the scribes were Normans, who had been trained to write French, and they revised our spelling for us, introducing new symbols, but unfortunately dropping some of the old ones. For all this, the manuscripts of the early part of the fourteenth century are fairly well spelt; and it is often possible to be able to say positively, from the forms employed, in what dialect and in what part of England they were written. But about the year 1400, so many old inflexions were dropped and so many new forms were thus created, that the spelling did not change with sufficient rapidity, and so became uncertain; and, as time went on, things became worse and worse. In the earlier part of the sixteenth century, a new idea came in, which has wrought sad havoc and disaster, viz. the notion that a word ought not to be spelt according to its sound, but according to its etymology and derivation; and this specious but senseless notion was attended with the worst consequences. For one thing, the derivations assigned were frequently wrong; and then a spelling was adopted which was neither phonetic nor etymological, but bad both ways. And this is the system which has ever since gone from bad to worse, and has landed us in the present state of chaos.

“The fact is that most people fail to grasp the one leading principle, viz. that it is the spoken word that really matters. Writing was invented for the purpose of representing the sound, and is only useful so far as it does so. The sole true judge is the ear. Yet we actually judge by the eye; we actually go by the look of the thing, and consider whether the word looks like Latin or Greek. If it does that, we call it good, in defiance of truth and logic. Yet whilst we are commonly anxious to spell English in such a manner as to show off our Latin and Greek, we lose sight of the material fact that the bulk of the language is neither of Latin nor of Greek origin, but goes back, in countless cases, to Old Mercian or to Anglo-French, neither of which is at all familiar to the average schoolboy. The plea for ‘etymological’ spelling, falsely so called, is invariably given up by every true English scholar as soon as he really comes to know the actual facts, and can understand a page of Chaucer or a page of Alfred; but, as such scholars are in a very small minority and are likely long to remain so, there is an overwhelming consensus of opinion in favour of continuing to bear the yoke which the printers impose on us. No improvement is possible till a reasonable and decent acquaintance with our old authors is a great deal more common than it is at present.

“Even our boasted acquaintance with Latin and Greek is often but a vain thing. We write sylvan as if it came from Greek, according to the old false ‘etymology’ which derived the Latin silua from a Greek word ???, which happened to mean the same thing, viz. ‘a wood.’ But even if there be any such ultimate connexion, the Latin word is only cognate, not derived. So that, if we really want to show off our classical knowledge, we ought to spell it silvan at once. We actually write victuals when we mean vittles, under the impression that the word is derived from Latin; but, as a matter of fact, it is of French origin, and only goes back to Latin at second hand. It is just as absurd as if we were to write redemption when we mean ransom. And it would be curious to know how many of our classical scholars are aware that ransom and redemption are from the same original. I hope there may come a time, before the twentieth century closes, when the claims of phonetic spelling will be fairly considered, impartially and logically, and with reference to true etymological facts. It is no small disgrace to us that its claims are now met only with sneers and scoffs, captiousness and prejudice, and by objections that have been exposed over and over again. The great New English Dictionary, now being printed by the University of Oxford, will probably be completed in some seven or eight years; and we shall then possess a storehouse of references for facts that can no longer be disputed. It will make a great difference. Englishmen are very slow to accept new truths; but when they do so, they do it with conviction. Let them once know the truth of a matter, and they will hold fast to it and abide by the consequences.”

[1] Published in full in Saint George, Vol. V, No. 19, July, 1902, and here reprinted by consent of the author and of the proprietors (Messrs. Fairbairns).

[2] This is no longer the case. As Professor Skeat remarked in his Inaugural Address on the foundation of this Society, the two great Universities have now united in adopting the reform here urged upon them.

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