Exceptions - The Cultural Source of the Literacy Crisis
"As I have spoken around the country, I have discovered a pervasive affliction: English spelling appears inconsistent, illogical, and for some impossible. This ache resides not only within our schools: public, private, and home, but within the hearts of professionals who cannot spell, parents who cannot answer their children's questions, intelligent adults who were in special education, employers who are despairing at the low literacy rates of the workforce, and on through all levels of society. The logic of English speaks straight to people's hearts and their greatest insecurities."
Quote from Uncovering the Logic of English
Two years have passed since I penned those words. However, within my heart they ring more loudly and more clearly. In state after state, city after city, people pack into conference rooms to learn about the logic of English. It is a topic that appears on the surface to be the dullest of topics: reasons for silent final E's, how to add a suffix to words, why letters are saying certain sounds. However, presentations on the Logic of English reduce countless people to tears, bring audiences to their feet, and leave people with a sense of sadness about the past and hope for the future.
I always begin by asking the audience, if they think the title, "The Logic of English" is an oxymoron. Inevitably 95% or more say, "yes."
As children, the majority of us were taught with a combination of sight words and "funny phonics." When we asked questions about English that didn't match the oversimplified rules, adults, without pause, would say, "That is an exception."
I have come to see this response differently. Though I am guilty of dismissing countless questions from my adult literacy students and my own children, I now realize, if a student were to ask me a question about science and I didn't know the answer, I would never say, "That is an exception to the laws of physics." No, I would say, "I do not know. I will need to look it up."
The English speaking world, has so completely lost their understanding of how English works, that teachers and highly-educated people do not even pause to consider, that maybe, just maybe there is an answer that they do not know. In fact, we do not even know where to look up the answer to simple questions such as, "Why is there a silent final E in have?"
The root of the literacy crisis in the English speaking world is a cultural problem. One that is perpetuated each time we answer a student's question with, "That is an exception."
The great news is that there are 106 tools that logically explain 98% of English words. There are answers to our real questions about English. And though English is a complex code, the answers are refreshingly simple.
Join us in changing the literacy crisis in this generation. Learn the answers to how English works. Put an end to the kill and drill of sight words and help us to ensure that this knowledge is as common as 1+1=2. Link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, and your blogs!