PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 52 ~ November 2011
by Dolores G. Hiskes


DO BOYS MATURE LATER THAN GIRLS?

There has been concern about the growing gender divide in achievement, beginning in primary schools. Common wisdom has it that boys mature later than girls, which is reflected in the overwhelming numbers of boys enrolled in remedial reading classes. Dwindling numbers of American boys major in math and science these days. Is this inevitable? Do boys really mature later than girls?

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DO BOYS MATURE LATER THAN GIRLS?

AN 1895 READING TEST

A VOICE FROM THE ANCIENT PAST

A SWEET NOTE

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DO BOYS MATURE LATER THAN GIRLS?

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Reading problems are endemic worldwide. In Great Britain, Rhona Johnston, a professor of psychology at Hull University, and Dr. Joyce Watson of St. Andrews University, studied the results from 300 children taught direct, explicit phonics when they were five.

The progress of the group at primary schools in Clackmannanshire was compared with 237 children using the more usual "complete language arts" program in which phonics is analyzed in words after the word is taught.

Here's the kicker: Boys taught using direct phonics were able to read
words significantly better than girls in regular classes at the age of
seven, with all pupils ahead of the standard for their age.

In the direct phonics group boys were 20 months ahead while girls
were 14 months more advanced than expected.

At the end of the study, boys' reading comprehension was as good
as that of the girls, but their word reading and spelling was better.

(As reported by Catherine Johnson in Kitchen Table Math
http://kitchentablemath.blogspot.com)

Do boys really mature later than girls? Nonsense! If we are ever to
once again excel in math and science it is imperative that we teach
reading correctly in schools. Direct, explicit phonics is the only
method that works for everyone. First, you read. Everything else follows.
And if you can't -- it doesn't.

Everyone must read with accuracy and fluency in order to deal with
the increasingly complex and subtle issues facing us in today's society.
Time is short, and the hour is late!

The old Greek philosopher Herotimus wrote: *We are dragged on by
consistency, but a thing may be consistent and yet false.*

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AN 1895 READING TEST

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Most of our grandparents only had an 8th grade education. Were they
illiterate? Check out this 1895 final exam for 8th grade in Kansas.
It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley
Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , KS , and reprinted by the
Salina Journal:

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS, 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.

4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of *lie*,
*play*, and *run.*

5. Define case; illustrate each case.

6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that
you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Sooooooooo....did only an 8th grade education make them illiterate?
I rest my case!

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A VOICE FROM THE ANCIENT PAST

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Quintilian was a scholar who lived in Nero's time. He wrote the following
in the Institutio Oratoria (95 AD) about teaching reading:

*...once syllables are learnt, let him begin to construct words with them
and sentences with the words, sentences with the words. You will hardly
believe how much reading is delayed by undue haste. If the child attempts
more than his powers allow, the inevitable result is hesitation, interruption
and repetition, and the mistakes which he makes merely lead him to lose
confidence in what he already knows. Reading must therefore first be
sure, then connected, while it must be kept slow for a considerable time,
until practice brings speed without error.*

Well spoken, Quintilian!

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A SWEET NOTE

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In previous newsletters I've primarily emphasized success stories from
students who had not been able to read before.

Here's a letter I received illustrating the opposite end of the spectrum:

*My three-year-old found our copy of Pathways and has taught herself
how to read. She is just doing Bob books, but she is very enthusiastic and
loves feeling like a big girl. We have had a busy year here, so I was not
planning on starting anything until Francesca was 4 or 4.5-- I guess
when they're ready, they'll find a way to learn from Phonics Pathways!*

Way to go, Francesca!

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Phonics Pathways seems to have a level of thought and explicitness that
makes things click for remedial students but can at the same time stimulate
a gifted younger student or anyone in between. And it's easy to teach.
Who could ask for anything more?

On that note I'll close this issue of Phonics Talk, wishing you health and
happy times in the coming Holidays. Stay safe, and stay well!

Blessings and joy to all,
Dolores

Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2011

 

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