1. If you’re looking for a “Western” education for very young children, be very careful what you wish for. I am now writing from Ontario Canada where test results indicate that our math scores are in constant decline and where literacy scores have become suspect, given that technology is now being used to read TO and FOR children instead of teaching that essential skill of reading. Here is what I wrote recently for my LinkedIn blog:

    “Text-to-Speech” or “Teach-to-Read”?

    I have in front of me an up-to-date IEP of an Ontario Grade 3 student. “Text-to-speech” software appears as both an “Instructional Accommodation” and an “Assessment Accommodation”. An alternative program for teaching this child to read appears nowhere.

    An accompanying professional psychological assessment indicates “above average” oral functioning. He is typical of so many children who arrive inmy study for help with learning to read. And who DO succeed.

    This is his fourth year of schooling and no one has even considered moving away from drilling that deadly, ROTE, list of “high-frequency words” compiled by Dolch back in 1932. Here is one of many children who would have been much better served by a Mr. Mugs approach, or something equally meaningful and properly scaffolded.

    Why on earth is it so very difficult for our Ministry – which espouses “differentiated instruction” and “multiple intelligences” – to put their propaganda into action?

    When “text-to-speech’ software is acceptable for both instruction and assessment, it is clear that this normally intelligent child will not be taught literacy skills; he will simply be read TO. It appears that our Ministry has convinced parents that this is the best they can do…

    “Text-to-Speech” software is destroying our children’s ability to read in the same way that the far-too-early introduction of calculators has destroyed their ability to add.

    The West is definitely in decline…

    “Miss Ann” Thompson

  2. Thanks for your comment Ann. It’s interesting that while there are concerns across the western world about the decline in teaching basic skills (and I come from the UK where similar concerns are often voiced), Asian education is often criticized for not stimulating creativity and individual thinking. We have such great expectations of schools and teachers, it’s very hard for them to find the right line.

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