ERIC Number: ED334557
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Mar-28
Reference Count: N/A
Weighing Claims of "Phonics First" Advocates.
The question of whether research supports a "phonics first" approach to teaching reading is not entirely answerable by factual evidence or statistical data: the issue is partly a matter of values and opinion. The debate is over whether phonics should be taught and tested in isolation, as a prelude to reading texts (the phonics-first view) or whether phonics strategies should be developed more gradually, in the context of reading and writing materials that interest students. The debate has been fueled recently by federal legislative actions and by the distribution of a Senate Republican Policy Committee document entitled "Illiteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice?" Misinformation abounds in the committee's document. It claims, for example, that there are only two ways to teach reading: phonics and "look and say," which the document incorrectly states is synonymous with "whole language." In addition, many of the studies cited in the document are deficient. Whole language classrooms foster habits and attitudes of independent, self-motivated, lifelong readers and writers to a far greater degree than more traditional classrooms--especially those emphasizing phonics first. (RS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues; Reading Theories
Note: First appeared in "Education Week," March 28, 1990.