Friday, July 1, 2011

Elementary education in reading and writing: Canadian schools need to improve their methods

The following is an updated re-post of a 'blog' entry I first created in the mid 1990's before blogging became really popular. At that time I posted my entries to my university website. Rather than continue to update those posts, I thought it best to transfer them here. I will do the same for several other posts in the coming days. The original post is here.

The public issue that I been interested in for probably the longest time is elementary education. Frankly I think that we are wasting future opportunities by not adequately educating our children how to read and write well in the early grades, here in North America.

My opinions hae been moulded via several influences:
  • I compare the education in Europe to that in North America, including
  • my own experiences in both systems.
  • I observe how youth are educated today (I have three children).
    I observe the arrival in university of those who are the product of
    the educational system.
  • I look at how we have to shape higher education to make up for the deficits of elementary education.
For me,  the biggest problem is that students are not stimulated enough in their elementary years. They read far too little (there is no reason why they should not be reading numerous books by the time they
are in grade 4).  And they do even less writing: They should be writing essays and lengthy pieces of fiction three to four years before they currently do.

I intend to post more about this topic as I encounter additional evidence and ideas. I will use the Elementary Education tag.

People say that we have too many things to teach our children, and that this is the root of the problem. I say rubbish! If we teach children to read and write well, we will maintain their natural yearning for knowledge. They will learn on their own, and will pick up what they are taught later
much faster.

What we do now is teach them lots of little facts in the early years – most of which they forget. Reading and writing, however, are skills that are never forgotten.

I don't want to diss elementary education entirely: I have been very impressed by the teaching skills of some of the teachers who have taught my children. However, my oldest child (and other children in her class) has progressed in reading and writing much more slowly than I did at the same age. She has been at the 'I can read because I can guess or memorize what it says' stage for a year-and-a-half. I remember lots and lots more individualized drills, plenty of gentle correction, and then the rapidly increasing joy of being able to read simple books, all when I was five. I have very, very vivid and detailed memories of this, right down to some individual books and words I learned, and where I was when I learned them.

To some extent, my wife and I are taking matters into our own hands regarding reading and writing. We know other enlightened parents do too. I think, however, that the educational system needs to wake up and realize that getting kids going early and more effectively on reading and writing will set them up for life. When I was a kid in Europe, the teaching methods in school were enough; my parents didn't need to do much more than read to me.

1 comment:

  1. I think children should be equally given importance to sports like studies...then only they pay totally attention to the studies...its not my own opinion i just studied this is some book based on children psychology.. :)

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