PLAY 60 is a great idea….Now, how about READ 60?

Nov 30, 2016 by

The simple way to fix K-12 is to fix reading.

PLAY 60 is a great idea….Now, how about READ 60?

PLAY 60 is the new initiative launched by the NFL to encourage kids to exercise. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “It’s important that young fans understand the benefits of exercise. NFL PLAY 60 is a significant tool in ensuring children get their necessary, daily physical activity.”

Lots of schools have given up on exercise, pathetically enough. Parents can’t seem to motivate their kids. So the NFL has stepped in to get the job done.

What an encouraging sign! When one large sector becomes enfeebled, more robust sections can help out. This is a good model for the society to follow in many areas.

What’s the single biggest flop in American society today? Arguably, that would be our public schools. As a matter of record, they are unable to teach millions of children to read. So we have a huge illiteracy crisis to go along with our crisis in physical fitness.

Here is a simple countermeasure, that can be called READ 60. Every day children will read for a total of 60 minutes— in the classroom, while doing homework, or on their free time.

Were this the norm, we would have few problems in our schools. 

However, the grim reality is that a great majority of America’s children don’t read for an hour each day. Many don’t read for an hour each week or even each month. Truth is, millions of children cannot read, mainly due to poor reading instruction. Millions of students remain semi-literate into high school and beyond.

There are many organizations with high-sounding names such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, which has this stated purpose: “Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.”

Impressive. But what is this or any other organization doing to combat illiteracy, besides talking a good game?  Meanwhile, literacy does not improve  Does the National Endowment for the Humanities not know that the #1 enemy of the Humanities is illiterate children? Such children will never know what Humanities are.

Truth is, we have an increasingly complex society built on an educational system unable to reach even simple goals. That has to be a losing strategy. I’m sure the Chinese have a good laugh every time they look over here.

Here’s one way you know that things are rotten in K-12. The Education Establishment spends a lot of time trying to redefine literacy so that it won’t include actual literacy. We hear a lot of talk about digital literacy, alternative literacies, 21st-century literacies, multiple literacies, social literacies, etc.

Every child should learn to read in the first grade. This should be the chief concern of all public schools. The official method in the US requires that children memorize sight-words, which is a dead end. Typically, children cannot read even in middle school. Imagine yourself trying to memorize weird graphic designs (e.g., kfzr, mqxz—that’s how all English words look to a six-year-old). You will quickly realize that the entire system for teaching children to read is a systematic fraud. Meanwhile, the correct way is obvious.

The true purpose of K-12 schools seems to be to create hordes of semi-literate children who will require further tutoring, testing, and teaching, not to mention psychiatric counseling and drug prescriptions. Billions are wasted. The Humanities are stifled. That seems to be what John Dewey wanted all along. He was always finagling to undermine literacy.

We can fix this problem. What if all the teachers and parents of America joined together to enforce this simple solution: READ 60. Every day children read for a total of 60 minutes— in the classroom, while doing homework, or on their free time. Nothing else that students do is as valuable as those 60 minutes.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on his education sites Improve-Education.org. (For info on his four new novels, see his literary site Lit4u.com.)

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