Friday, June 01, 2007

Quote of the Day - June 1, 2007

"It is clearer that the way to teach somebody to read who doesn't have many books in their home is not to teach them to recognize whole words and holistic methods like that, that works for people who are in Montessori schools and whose parents read The New Yorker... you need phonics.”
- John McWhorter, linguistics scholar and Senior Fellow with the Manhattan Institute, during his appearance this morning on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" when asked about education in the Black community

plez sez: in my spare moments in the morning, i love to watch C-SPAN and listen to the insightful interviews on current events. i really enjoy the phone calls from around the country from the decidedly left-leaning and right-leaning listeners... there are very few calls to the independent line. this morning, i paused longer than usual while listening to John McWhorter speak about race relations in this country and his take on how things are today versus a generation ago.

my ears really stood up when i heard him make the quote above while answering a question about how to improve education, particularly for Black folk. i tend to agree that phonics is the best way to learn to read, i believe that learning to read phonetically is the reason why my daughter is such a good reader at age 5 (she has been reading for close to a year and a half). his mention of people "in Montessori schools and whose parents read 'The New Yorker'" really piqued my attention because as luck would have it, my daughter attends a Montessori school (today was the last day of her third year) and i have had a subscription to "The New Yorker" magazine for more than 10 years!

some would say that it's a coincidence... but now i wonder was McWhorter really speaking to me? or am i just being paranoid?


David Sullivan said...

It just goes to show that you can't judge a "dude" by his "color". (the book/cover thing works too)

Francis Holland said...

Hi, plez:

I'm a strong supporter of phonics as well. That's how my grandmother taught me to read when I was four years old.

Concerning the issue of urban violence, Simone at Philly Confidential says, "The longer we ignore the truth behind the urban murder crisis, the longer the good guys will continue to lose." - Simone, Philly Confidential

Cross-posted at the American Journal of Color-Arousal (AMJCA).

For quite some time, Field Negro has been focusing our attention of the fratricide among Black men (and women) in Philadelphia, urgently asking what can be done to keep us from killing each other. Can the AfroSpear Help Reduce Urban Violence?

I have urged that we look at Color-Aroused antagonism and violence (antagonism and violence that target people because of emotions, ideation and behavior associated with their color) and I have urged that we think of this, in extreme cases, as a symptom of a psychiatric condition, Extreme Color-Arousal (ECA).

Now, Field points us toward an article by Simone at PhillyConfidential, with alarming statistics.

Jay said...

I think that anything parents do to help and encourage kids to read is a great thing. I'm not totally sure where that dude is going with that statement. Like I said, as long as kids are learning to read it's a great thing.

dc_speaks said...

this is very timely, plez. I loved the content and I appreciate the raising of the bar in the minds of all of us via your blog as a tool.

Keep doin your part, brah. People are listening!!

plez... said...

to bring alittle more context to the comment, i think mcwhorter was trying to bring home the fact that kids who do not go home to a household where there are books or a household where the parents are readers (i.e. the jab at us "The New Yorker" subscribers), it is crucial that these kids be taught to read using phonics. it is my understanding that he feels that trying to teach children whole words (or learning to read by rote or memorization) does not really teach them to read... and after witnessing my daughter's reading education, i tend to agree with him.

i'm glad that you enjoyed the post and it's good that you (and others) are listening. we have a lot of work to do! *smile*

CapCity said...


thanx again for keeping me abreast of things going on in my city:-). my dad also has had a subscription to The New Yorker for as long as I can remember. I attended a non-montessori indep. school - but tha's all good:-). I need to get back to writing about that, too - but have been so busy w/ other things.

As a former classroom teacher (will always be an educator, i've discovered:-)...i practiced & support a variety of methods to teach because i learned that all of my students learned differently. I wanted everyone to "get it" - so I teach to visual learners, auditory learners and tactile learners as much as possible. Phonetics does not work for everyone, some children are sight readers. I think a blend is best. my humble opinion that i was able to put in practice.

JUST like the NY'er your blog touches on SO many TOPICs which is what I love!

plez... said...

i'm glad that you continue to support this little corner of the world with your presence.

i guess i should've been more explicit in my definition of my daughter's education, my wife quickly corrected me, she learned to read using a number of methods, which included visual, auditory, and tactile methods (so phonics was only one part of it)...

...and your father (by his choice of quality reading material) sounds like real classy dude!