Literacy Myth 3 - Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science

As a whole, English speakers cannot explain to someone else how to begin the process of learning to read. To most people it is a mystery. If we are literate, we may begin by reading to another person and pointing to each word as we say it aloud. Some of us may point to some of the letters and teach a few of the sounds coupled with a plethora of exceptions that must be memorized. However, if we were tasked with explaining to a beginning reader each of the words in a text, even a simple one, most of us have no idea how to explain the process of reading. If we are literate, it seems natural, like speaking. And if we are struggling readers, the process seems unnatural. Yet most struggling readers cannot explain exactly what it is that is so confusing.

This has led to a belief that either a student learns to read naturally or a highly-trained teacher must be employed. Now, I am in full support of extensive teacher training, and I fully believe we need to provide training on the five strands of reading and multi-sensory education to all teachers. However, to change the literacy crisis we need to understand that anyone who is literate can teach reading. We do not need to wait for a new generation of M.A.'s and PhD.'s to receive better training. With basic knowledge of English, anyone can teach reading and anyone can improve their understanding while teaching another.

Learning 60,000 to 100,000 words is a daunting task. And without a prior understanding of the 75 phonograms and 31 spelling rules that explain 98% of English words, it would be nigh impossible for most of us to distill a meaningful code. However, with this simple knowledge, it is possible for everyone to become a teacher of reading and part of the solution.

At the Logic of English we have found that with a well-designed curriculum parents around the world are remediating children who have struggled with reading or spelling for years. They are teaching students who have learning disabilities and students who have struggled in school. With our program parents and teachers are teaching the rules and phonograms to four-, five-, and six-year-old students with great success. We receive regular emails about children picking up books and beginning to read and about students who once struggled with reading developing a love for books. None of these teachers have had extensive training. However, they are experiencing success because they have been empowered with answers to the questions students ask about words. They also have tools that break down the information, provide sample scripting, introduce fun games, and answer questions commonly asked by students and teachers. Teaching reading is not hard, given the correct tools.

Unfortunately, some literacy experts have given the impression that teaching reading is rocket science. I believe that their desire is to create compassion for struggling students; however, teaching reading is NOT rocket science. Anyone can teach reading. To ensure that 100% of our citizens learn to read, we must shatter the myth that we need to wait for experts to rescue us. It is time we all learn how English works and start sharing this knowledge to improve the lives of others and eradicate illiteracy.