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Whole Word Instruction Teaches Readers to Guess

The Romney campaign has come in for a lot of ridicule for misspellings in a smart phone app and a Facebook announcement. Campaign officials corrected the offending misspellings as quickly as possible and put the gaffs down to “human error.”

“America” and “sneak peek” misspelled by the Romney campaign.

It is true that humans make plenty of errors, but the number of spelling errors that are proliferating in the published materials of people who ought to know better are the fruition of decades of the touchy-feely reading instruction that replaced systematic phonics with word guessing. We now have multitudes of adult readers who were never taught to look carefully at words.

Children who are taught to read with systematic phonics learn to pay attention to details. Children taught with the “whole word” method learn to guess.

Political campaigners aren’t the only ones letting misspelled words slip past them. Educational suppliers are not only printing diplomas with misspelled words on them, but the professional educators and recipients of the diplomas don’t notice.

Misspelled diplomas two years in a row.

Diplomas, both high school and university, that were issued with the following words misspelled: “program” (progam), “graduation”(graduataion), “Bachelor” (Bachlor), “Education” (Eduation), “for” (fro), and “and” (ans).

3 comments to Whole Word Instruction Teaches Readers to Guess

  • Christopher

    Dear Ms Maddox, have you ever watched Jay Leno’s Tonight Show? I think that is what it is called. I have not watched it in years, but I know he used to go to the Ivy League graduations and give to the new graduates basic questions relative to the degree they just received diplomas for. Invariably, they would answer incorrectly. Surely he edited out the right answers; but given the ease of the questions and the institution these people just graduated from, you would have guessed beforehand that none would have been stymied….

  • Me too. When degree-granting institutions can’t produce correctly-spelled materials, we’ve reached a very low ebb.

  • Love the diploma errors.

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