Thursday, 14 December 2017

Phonics 'first', 'fast' and....'ONLY' ???

Some enthusiasts of systematic synthetic phonics get quite cross with those of us who suggest that the principle advocated is 'first, fast and only'. We raise our eyebrows at the 'only'. They say that they don't really mean 'only'. We have disputes about this! T

Here's are a few lines from a book that's just come out:

"...once children can decode accurately, they can use their reading skills to independently access the rich and motivating texts...' James Clements 'Teaching English by the Book'.

[btw is this using 'decode' and 'read' interchangeably?]

The word 'once' seems to imply indeed that Clements advocates 'first, fast and only'.

He goes on:

'It is...vital that discrete phonics teaching takes place within a rich text-based curriculum' 

'While children are learning to word-read, they will continue to listen to and enjoy a wide range of books'

If Clements has chosen his words carefully here, he is conjuring up a picture that teachers should do SSphonics first, fast and only, while providing a 'rich text-based curriculum' which children 'listen' to. 

He seems to be saying: only when they've 'got' the alphabetic code, are they allowed (?) to look at the texts (the words) themselves.