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Old September 17, 2003, 10:13 AM
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Default Hooked on Phonics & The Brain - Use it or Lose it.


> About Phonics. Phonics is the old-fashioned style of learning to read by sounding out
> letters and combinations. Accuracy is higher, as is retention and comprehension
> according to tests done by several universities when the controversy occurred
> over the 'new' (old actually) method of look-say teaching of reading occurred.

Thanks to the "Hooked on Phonics" ads, I think most people are probably familiar with the return of phonetic reading.

I was taught phonetic english, too, and had NO trouble reading the "Cambridge University" tidbit.

It's just my humble opinion, but I think that the "look say" way of teaching was just a bone headed way of trying to rush people through the process.

Many people that were taught phonetic English DO, indeed, read with full word recognition instead of looking at each letter. Hence the ability of many people to read that letter and laugh because it WAS so easy to read.

But full word absorption is a stage you get to - not a stage to start at.

I know many people that learned phonetic english and still struggle with reading and comprehension. Know what else I notice? Those people don't read all that much.

Just my belief, but I believe it has more to do with whether the person reads regularly than with the teaching method.

Take playing the piano as an example. The more you practice, the better you get. The same applies to hockey, or soccer or tennis... or reading.

Progression of ability improves with comfort and familiarity derived from repetition.

The same could be applied to reading. A person that reads two books a week is going to be a more fluent reader than someone who might pick up one book a year - regardless of how they were taught.

Use it or lose it? Does that apply to the brain? You bet it does.

Interesting tidbit from an article called "Use it or Lose it"
  • Though most of the research providing information on the plasticity of the brain comes from animal studies, recent experiments from the Brain Research Institute at UCLA have shown similar results in human brains. In Wernicke's area, which deals with word understanding, the nerve cells have more dendrites in college-educated people than in people with only a high school education.

And here's another tidbit to chew on.

It is a fact that when people watch television, within 30 seconds of sitting down in front of the boob tube, the brain goes from predominantly beta waves (alert, conscious) to predominantly alpha waves (unfocused, receptive lack of attention: the state of aimless fantasy and daydreaming below the threshold of consciousness).

Food for thought, indeed. For anyone that's not on vacation in the "alpha" camp, of course. ; )


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