kitchen table math, the sequel: Holistic Teaching

Friday, August 1, 2008

Holistic Teaching

My current, and last, class to obtain a Reading Specialist endorsement is Teaching Reading to Special Needs Students.

Here is the publisher's description of the book as provided on
When the first edition of Readers and Writers with a Difference appeared in 1988, it shattered the myth that whole language instruction was too unstructured and inexplicit to help remedial and learning disabled students. By providing specific assessment and instructional strategies, it was one of the first texts to show that struggling readers and writers could, indeed, benefit from holistic methods-not just in the resource room, but in the regular classroom as well. [Great, just what we need, more whole language for those students who didn't learn with whole language the first time around.]

Today, as more and more students with learning problems are entering mainstream classroom settings, the models presented by Rhodes and Dudley-Marling are more cogent than ever. But the framework upon which whole language theory rests has greatly evolved since the first edition was published and has also come under increasing attack. This second edition renews the case for whole language theory, taking into account the various developments in language arts over the past eight years. Included are new and expanded sections on literacy theory, instruction and assessment, and literacy as social practice; and a reconsideration of how teachers, administrators, and parents might work and learn collaboratively.

I cannot emphasize enough how frustrating I have found my reading endorsement classes. I can't wait to finish this last one and be done (hopefully) choking down the unsupported garbage that passes for reading pedagogy. There is real research showing real results using Direct Instruction and its ilk, that is not only ignored, but denigrated, by progressivists. I'm tired of "learning" all this useless tripe, and I'm totally fed up with it. I still want to earn a Master's degree in some area of education, but I'm not going to continue with my current university. The Educational Research class I took was the last straw (some day I'll post about it). If anyone knows a good, research based Master's program online, please let me know about it.

Teacher YOU Training Institute
k9sasha on holistic teaching


Anonymous said...

"that whole language instruction was too unstructured and inexplicit"

There is another form of whole language that actually is explicit. The Glenn Doman system. No context cues, no guessing strategies. Just the rote memorization of every single word out there.


K9Sasha said...

Just the rote memorization of every single word out there.

That'd be like trying to memorize the phone book!

Exo said...

I'm affraid it's almost every masters program in education that is similarly awful. I am doing my masters in science education (General science, concentration on Life Sciences) - the ed. courses are terrible. I'm fed up with "inquiry, dicovery, and hands-on". I was able to substitute couple of pedagogy classes with intership via e-mail with microbiology department (kudos to my curator!), but I'm taking online classes in science from AMNH now - it's still terrible! "How do you feel about ocean currents influencing the weather? Discuss." Hate it. And even science courses for teachers are dumbed down to the level of a person who has no basic science knowledge! And that's on graduate level!

Anonymous said...

"There is another form of whole language that actually is explicit. The Glenn Doman system. No context cues, no guessing strategies. Just the rote memorization of every single word out there."

This would be whole *WORD*, not whole language. Despite sharing the "whole", the two approached are very different.

-Mark Roulo

K9Sasha said...

Oh, Exo, you dishearten me. My undergraduate degree is in Bio Sci and those classes were hard. My ed classes, in contrast, have been so easy it's a joke. And the content - ! Just like your example of "How do you feel about ocean currents influencing the weather?" Who cares how you feel. The ocean currents are going to influence the weather no matter how you feel about it. Facts are facts and feelings don't change them (oh, wait - I'm being logical again).

One program I'm going to look into is Western Governor's University. It's hard to tell, though, from program and class descriptions what it is they really teach - facts or "how do you feel..."

Liz Ditz said...

My score: the intro class on was good (but virtually zero reading); the intro class to our subfield was dreadful -- I had intellectually more demanding classes in middle school); the k-5 curriculum & methods in math was inspiring -- but with hindsight, too short, not enough theory, not enough guidance in developing one's own understanding of the underlying concepts in mathematics.

The textbook was frustrating -- a new edition, more expensive, with copious instructions to "see more at the website" -- and when you go to the website, no content available.

I'm not looking forward to the reading classes.

K9Sasha said...


Are you taking classes from Western Governor's University?

I hear that you're not satisfied with your classes, but is there any actual content to them? While I'd like a good program, I'll settle for an okay one as long as what they teach is supported by quantitative research, rather than qualitative research and ideology.

ElizabethB said...


I have received e-mails from several people getting graduate degrees through Grand Canyon University. It is a Christian Online college.

The only thing I know about them is that they are currently requiring their grad students to do a paper about the history of reading instruction, several of them have asked questions about my history of reading instruction page.

The last lady to contact me said she used info from my history page and that she got an A!

If you're interested, I could e-mail her and see if she wants to e-mail you about the program.

ElizabethB said...

That's very sad.

I'd don't want more remedial students, I have more than I want already!

For some real research into something new, they should try doing a study using Webster's Speller. I think it would get even better results than regular phonics.

Of course, I'm sure something from the late 1700's and early 1800's would be denigrated as well. Actually, "progressive" educators of the 1800's already denigrated it, their main complaints were the waste of time on nonsense syllables which to them had no productive purpose and the waste of time and obsession with spelling. (Actually, Webster did not include a single syllable that does not occur in a word. He omits quu, for example. All others are parts of words-- ba in ba-ker, ab in ab-stract.)

K9Sasha said...


I would be very interested in learning more about Grand Canyon University.

Catherine Johnson said...

This is horrifying.

Catherine Johnson said...

and parents might work and learn collaboratively

Offhand, I'd say this is a dangerous route to go down.

Keeping parents in the dark about the methods you're using seems far the more effective approach.

This is why districts now use "balanced literacy," not "whole language."

Catherine Johnson said...

The Educational Research class I took was the last straw (some day I'll post about it).

When you find time, I hope you'll write this. People need to know what's being taught in these schools.

Catherine Johnson said...

it was one of the first texts to show that struggling readers and writers could, indeed, benefit from holistic methods-not just in the resource room, but in the regular classroom as well

Apparently the authors define "show" differently from the rest of us.

Catherine Johnson said...

How do you feel about ocean currents influencing the weather? Discuss


Catherine Johnson said...

I feel fine, thank you.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm trying to remember....I believe there's an ed school in Texas that teaches behaviorism & DI (or a form of DI) -- I remember pulling a syllabus from them.

I'll see if I can remember who they are.

Engelmann and Carnine are at ---- Oregon?

Oregon or Washington, I'm thinking.

I have a vague memory that Michigan State is better than other places. (I could be wrong---)

Catherine Johnson said...

hmmm... I'm afraid I misremembered.

I pulled material from Jon Bailey's web page at Florida State University. He's in the psych department.

Catherine Johnson said...


I have a thought!

I don't know if they do distance teaching, but some of the charter folks have put together their own ed school, at City College, I believe.

I think I can find an article about it at Ed Week.

Hang on a sec.

Catherine Johnson said...

Here it is:

College and Charter Groups Team Up to Train Teachers

You may be able to pull the article for free if you register.

I think I've got your email -- if so, I'll cut & paste the article & email.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've emailed you the full article -- if it's not in your queue, let me know---

ElizabethB said...


Send me an e-mail, and I'll e-mail the Grand Canyon University student who contacted me with your e-mail. (And then go down my list of others if she doesn't respond, they may or may not be students at the same university, she was the only one who said where she went to school. She lives in Virginia.)

liz91 (at) thephonicspage (dot) org

ElizabethB said...

Komenni (I think) and another good researcher or 2 are at the University of Oregon, they've done a lot of good phonics research there. However, I'm not sure how good the degree programs are and they look to be only for physically located students.

LSquared32 said...

How to find a good masters degree program:

Read some research papers, until you find some you like. Make sure they are written by an education professor (I assume you are looking for an el ed or middle school master's degree--if you want a subject area MSE, you should have a somewhat easier time of it). E-mail the author(s) of the paper you like, and ask for their advice. Express specific interest in whatever it was you liked about their paper. It doesn't guarantee that everything about the program will be good, but it should be good enough that you won't regret having done it.

Good luck!

ElizabethB said...

All the good research papers I know of in the education field are written by people outside of Education! Also, all of the good reading and phonics research seems to be done by people outside of the reading field, mainly in fields like neurology and psychology.