It’s one of the most bizarre and destructive events in American history. Circa 1931, public schools started using Whole Word to teach reading. (This method has many other names, such as Look-say, Whole Language, Dolch Words, and Sight Words.) Almost immediately, children started having psychological problems – i.e., mental health issues.
The typical pattern is that a boy will reach the second or third grade and realize that his teachers and family think he is, in effect, retarded because he can’t do this simple thing that most other kids can do. In fourth grade he will be labeled dyslexic. In fifth grade he will be declared to have ADHD and be in need of Ritalin. This story, in endless variations, has descended upon millions of Americans, on males more than females (so it is a component of the War on Boys).
Long story short, millions of Americans think they have a serious disability called dyslexia. All phonics experts say that these victims do not have “dyslexia”; they merely have the side-effects of being taught by misguided teachers. It’s those side-effects that have caused so much suffering and educational decline since 1931.
Siegfried Engelmann, one of America’s great educators, pointed out: “But the assumption of the label dyslexia is that the kid is at fault – not that the kid has been the victim of academic child abuse. We have worked with thousands of kids and never seen one who failed to learn to read when the teaching and management details are in place. We worked with several hundred kids whose IQ was below 80 and every one was able to read by the end of first grade.”
Mona McNee, the phonics expert, insisted that reading failure is usually due to faulty methods. People, she said, “should use the word dysteachia, not dyslexia.”