Literacy LO30183

From: Terje A. Tonsberg (
Date: 05/16/03

Replying to LO30170 --

On Wed, 14 May 2003 12:57:07 +0200 AM de Lange wrote:

> Alan Cotterell <> writes:
> >It would seem to me that literacy is absolutely the key to
> >success in modern life, and we do the kids a disservice by
> >neglecting this part of their education.

> what is the reason for this serious problem? I would like to read what
> fellow learners think. I myself think that is a concequence of the
> information explosion which far too many humans have been exposed to.
> Their entropy (fitness) landscape gets flattened and that makes them lame
> to any effort in communicating effectively.

My comment:

Yes, but I think the reason why it flattens out is the inability to deal
with it in the first place. That is, I think teachers are so busy with
"discovery learning" that there just isn't enough practice on basic
phonics, vocabulary, spelling, etc. So when they get to higher grades
where they are supposed to sentences etc. they haven't yet qualified for
it, then when they get to the level where they are asked to write essays
they still are not fluent in putting together a sentence. This phenomena
is called cumulative dysfluency. It is like trying to build a pyramid with
gypsum boards. Learning to read and write necessarily needs a lot of
repetitive and hard work and there isn't enough of that in schools.

Actually, the only reason I send my kid to school is to socialize. I know
that I can achieve much better result in less than an hour at home.
Actually, if I leave it up to them his fluency in solving simple addition
problems, writing single words etc. is brought to a standstill or
regresses. I have tested this. They are too busy coloring and whatever
else it is that they do. They think that drilling the basics is "rote
learning" and therefore avoid it, thereby "producing" semi illiterate
students. A little short term pain would have been much better than a life
as a semi illiterate wouldn't it? And with some imagination and a highly
structured approach it doesn't have to require a lot of disicpline. The
main key is making sessions short and easy. Difficult tasks drive
avoidance behavior. E.g. teach how to write small "L" until the kid can do
it quickly, then add a more difficult letter etc. Once they get to a stage
where they can do these tasks quickly and easily, you'll find they
actually enjoy it. Again, provided you don't drag out the sessions.

To put it in At's terms: The teachers set the kids up for bifurcations
before the digestive phase has completed. This leads to flat entropy
landscapes or immergences (juvenile crime etc.) I don't think it so much
information overload that is the cause as a lack of tool skills to handle

At McGill University an educator was brought in to help students with
their calculus skills. What did he do? He started by bringing up their
speed (yes speed, as in problems solved per minute) and accuracy in simple
multiplication, fractions, addition, subtraction etc. There were strong
objections, but in the end the results were apparently dramatic.

This similar approach is used by a private school calle "Morningside
Academy." They give a moneyback guarantee if the kid does not complete at
least two years of academia in one year. And that is without homework.
They often complete even two or three. They specialize in bringing up kids
who have been left behind, so that they can go and join their own year
level again without difficulty.


PS At, I wrote a reply on the democracy topic, but couldn't send it at the
time due to connection problems so it was left in my draft box. It is now
locked away in the office until Sunday.


"Terje A. Tonsberg" <>

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