A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Nothing is owed by the private sector to the public sector
Previous entry: Learning by assisting
Wednesday January 16 2008

Trawling through the educational “news” is to immerse oneself in an endless litany of disappointed hopes and missed targets.  So instead of writing about any of that today, I will write about another little detail that Irina Tyk mentioned in the talk she gave on Saturday.

It was to do with blending.  When you start teaching reading with the Butterfly Book, you don’t start with the names of the letters, but with the sounds they make.  (Names come later.) And right away, in lesson one, you are teaching blending.  You get a few sounds, the sounds made by a, n and t, and you start making little words out of them.  Ta.  At.  Na.  An.  Tan.  Ant.  Nan.  Tat.  Blending begins at once.  And no, I don’t know what “na” is either.  That doesn’t matter.  What matters is making the right noise.  What “ant” means is also digression.  Do not interrupt the teaching of reading with a lesson about insects, or asking whether the kid knows what an ant is.  (I used to do this.  Now, I will stop.)

Anyway, what Irina Tyk said was that what you must not do when teaching blending is assemble a number of separate syllables, and then try to put them together.  So, if the task is to get the child to read “together”, what you do not do is break together up into “to”, “geth” and “er”, and then try to bolt all that ... together.  Blending is done from left to right.  If you do need to soften the complexity of it, then cover up “gether” behind a bit of card, leaving only “to” visible.  Then slide your card rightwards, and leave “togeth” visible.  Then slide it again, revealing all of “together”.  You should not cover up “togeth” in order to show that the end goes “er”.

Interesting.  Well, I think so.  In general, Irina Tyk gave me a lot of confidence that she knows exactly how to teach people to read, with all extraneous stuff stripped out of the process.  So if on some particular matter I don’t get why she says whatever she says, I am inclined to take her word for it.