Whole LanguageAs a teacher of sometimes reluctant...


June 13, 1995

Whole Language

As a teacher of sometimes reluctant learners, I have been following the series of letters on to-whole-language or not-to-whole-language with interest.

Schools, as in politics and business, seem to look for trends and latch on to them. This tends to result in a continual swaying between one currently "correct" philosophy to another.

Keeping up with the swing of the pendulum can be difficult enough for teachers, but the average parent is not kept informed with the kind of in-service education teachers receive. There definitely seems to be an adversarial relationship developing between teachers and parents. We teach your children. We want them to succeed.

Whole language encourages reading a whole piece of writing and does not ignore phonics.

One of the biggest misconceptions about whole language is that it is synonymous with "look-say." Whole language incorporates phonics as a strategy.

A strict phonics program teaches word recognition in isolation. A successful reader who loves reading understands the meaning of the words being unlocked, not just individual definitions of words, but words in the context of a story.

Irony, satire, humor and suspense, things we enjoy as adult readers, can be enjoyed by children, too, if they get the chance to read and discuss the whole piece of writing.

Unlocking pronunciation is only part of reading and is especially helpful when a child is reading aloud in class in front of their peers. But is reading aloud a lifelong learning skill? How many adults are called upon to read aloud?

A lifelong learner will read for enjoyment. They won't do work sheets on phonics. If you think your child is missing out on the fun you had as a student in school and should have more out-of-context work sheets to be a lifelong learner, visit your child's school.

Don't rely on the nostalgic memories of the "good ole days" that you recall fondly from your childhood. Have a conference with your child's teacher. Talk to your child about school. Read in front of your child. Be a role model for reading.

If you do this there is no way your child will get to the third grade and not be able to read, either with whole language or phonics.

The world has changed. And it will continue to change by the time my current sixth grade, class of 2001, graduates.

Schools struggle to teach for the future. Kids need to think and solve problems more than ever. They need real life applications for their learning and need to have school made relevant to them. Parents and teachers need to work together to help our children thrive in this world.

Kathleen Wiles


Stand Up

The shocking response to the president's call to the people to stand up against hate by the not inconsequential lunatic fringe of the media and the National Rifle Association confirms the absolute necessity for civilized people to heed his call immediately and resolutely.

I shun political labels, and those who do label would find it exceedingly difficult to label me.

In my opinion the most dangerous and pernicious group is the American Civil Liberties Union because it provides an aura of respectability to the vicious, barbaric hate mongering and crimes of the uncouth, uncultured and uncivilized elements that abound in our society.

The ACLU notwithstanding, no one has absolute rights. A person's rights cease when they become detrimental to others, and no individual or group can insolently arrogate unto itself the authority to judge whether they are or are not detrimental.

In addition, it is high time that the electorate purge the Congress of the NRA panderers who disgrace the Senate and the House of Representatives. Someone once said that it is easy for evil to thrive; all that is necessary is for the good people to remain silent and do nothing.

So let us heed the president's call.

Rabbi Manuel M. Poliakoff


Calvert Hall

As an alumnus of Calvert Hall College High School, I feel compelled to respond to John Phelan's May 23 letter to the editor, "Sinking Fast," questioning the administration's (specifically Brother William Johnson's) handling of students involved in the publication of an underground newspaper.

Mr. Phelan is apparently not aware of the "Area 54" publication's entire content as he takes his First Amendment stance. The articles, with their free use of expletives, would not be permitted in The Sun or any other newspaper.

The article regarding abortion was one of many issues on which Brother William (along with the administration) based his action -- an action which has been supported by those with links to the school, as well as those without.

Calvert Hall student regulations are very specific regarding a student's conduct both in and outside of school.

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