A basic, old-school literacy lifeline tossed into a sea of declining reading skills.

READING CHAMPS

A language arts and reading specialist offers a systematic but individualized program for teaching children to read.

Wirtz (Reading Champions! Master Training and Teaching Book, 2002) comes with 40 years’ experience teaching grades K through 12. Her program, developed over many years in the classroom crucible, is for teachers, parents, or tutors, all of whom are assigned the roles of coaches. Wirtz builds on what she calls common-sense minilessons designed to augment but not replace existing school reading programs. Each carefully formatted CSML packet is geared to take no more than 15 minutes, though some seem likely to take longer. Others, especially those for beginning readers, are meant to be repeated as often as necessary for a particular student. The coaching approach is decidedly hands-on and will produce best results in one-on-one or small classroom settings. “Practice, drill and repetition are the best way to build language skills,” she writes, and these will remain necessary until readers automatically and without conscious thought apply skills such as word recognition. Only then can these advancing readers begin to use techniques such as scanning, in which the eyes sweep pages for broad meaning without plowing through every sentence. Wirtz goes even further, suggesting a subliminal technique in which the eyes are focused on the white spaces between the lines “to let the mind, rather than your eyes, gather information in larger chunks.” But she concentrates mainly on letter-recognition methods, phonics, short and long vowels, letter groupings, consonant blends and digraphs, diphthongs and the like, each the focus of individual CSMLs. Generally clear and concise, these lessons call for nothing fancier than homemade word boards and alphabet cards. Computers and bedazzling reading software don’t figure into her old-school approach; a CSML on the use of dictionaries doesn’t mention spell-checking software or the ease of looking up a word online. Indeed, Wirtz’s entire program could have been carried out just as well 50 years ago. Maybe that’s a good thing.

A basic, old-school literacy lifeline tossed into a sea of declining reading skills.

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1489702081

Page Count: 280

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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