Friday, April 13, 2012

Something wrong here?

Anachronism

Children in the UK are to be tested on their reading abilities by reading nonsense words. It's already happening; I've overheard the tests going on in school.

Meanwhile, in other news, baboons can be taught to distinguish real words from nonsense words, despite not understanding the meaning of the real words.

Am I the only one seeing something wrong in this?

17 COMMENTS:

Lexi said...

Insane. When my daughter was little, her teacher gave her homework involving mis-spelled words she was supposed to pick out. I told her I thought this a really bad idea (and didn't let Minty do the homework) as the eye photographs words it reads and bad spelling can only confuse anyone learning to read.

MorningAJ said...

I don't think it's wrong exactly. Fascinating, yes. And the idea of making humans read nonsense 'words' to test the effectiveness of phonics learning is right.

It's whether or not you believe that phonics is the way forward that's the real question here.

I was taught that way, but I know it's not ideal for everyone and the government's insistence on 'one size fits all' education scares me.

(OK. Rant over. It's safe to come out again now.)

The reading baboons are WAY cool!

fairyhedgehog said...

Lexi, good for you for standing up to the teacher! I mostly spell by seeing the right spelling so often that the wrong one looks 'off'. So exposing a youngster to lots of wrong spellings seems like a really bad idea!

MAJ, the trouble is that the brighter kids were struggling most, because they could see that these weren't real words. So although they could do the exercise it was much harder for them than real reading.

My older son loved his reading scheme; my younger son hated it and loved real books. As you say, there is no one way that works for everyone (but our government thinks there is!)

Old Kitty said...

"Understanding meaning is the essence of reading so we must ask if this test really assesses reading."

I think the above quote from the article you linked to says it all!

Take care
x

fairyhedgehog said...

Kitty, that quote is pretty telling!

Simon Kewin said...

Nonsense words? There's my writing career in a nutshell ...

fairyhedgehog said...

Simon, well it worked for Lewis Carroll!

SillyBoy said...

I believe it is our duty to assign meanings to these nonsense words, and promulgate their usage with alacrity. Bonus points for obscenity.

fairyhedgehog said...

SillyBoy, now there's an approach that hadn't occurred to me!

klahanie said...

I suppose the only saving grace in this farce is that on the topic of the baboons, they are allegedly going to be attempting to teach the politicians, notably the ridiculous coalition government, how to understand the meaning of real words and maybe even learn some honesty. Then I woke up....
In kindness, Gary

fairyhedgehog said...

Gary, oh if only!

Debbie said...

Interesting article. Are they telking the mick?

fairyhedgehog said...

Debbie, both articles are serious. The baboons one is research; the other is our government being as heavy handed on education as we've come to expect!

Whirlochre said...

I have no problem with kids reading nonsense words but see no point in it.

Presumably these words are being used to work out if kids can pronounce the real words which they resemble — teasing out the tions from the aughs, I suppose.

In which case — why not use the real words? It's not as if there aren't enough of them, after all.

fairyhedgehog said...

Whirl, it's a good point but maybe they're worried they'll run out of words. Maybe *gasp* a child might read the same word twice in one term!

stacy said...

Huh. That approach pretty much comprises my university English classes.

Good to see you back around, Fairy.

fairyhedgehog said...

Stacy, thanks! And do you mean they treated you like baboons at uni? Eek!

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