Why Dick And Jane Can't Read
and What We Can Do About It
By Academic Associates founder Cliff Ponder
Copyright 2006 by Cliff Ponder
The new elementary school principal could hardly believe what he was
hearing - an eighth-grade student struggling to read a fourth-grade
book! "He must be severely handicapped," the principal thought. Upon
investigation, however, he found that the reader was a typical 14
year-old boy. Except for one thing - he couldn't read.
I was that school principal, and I soon discovered that those
students were not alone; half the adults in the United States can't read
simple instructions like those on a job application or a medicine
bottle. Canadians fare only slightly better.
So why can't these
students read? In desperation I sought an answer from the district's
experts. They sent me 2,000 miles away to a reading specialist with a
Ph.D. I hung on every word she spoke, but returned to my school no
wiser for the effort.
Over the next twenty years I examined every
reading instruction methodology that promised even a glimmer of hope,
but none provided the answers I so desperately needed. Although some of
the methods seemed to help some of the students, there were always
large gaps that left many unable to read.
Years later new scientific research on the complex functions of the brain
revealed that all the reading instruction programs used in schools -
even those that include basic phonics instruction - are predicated on
faulty assumptions. They attempt to teach reading to an area of the
brain that can't process language in any form. It is the old "Dick and
Jane" whole-word method. The entire system was destined to fail from
Armed with the latest research, I began designing a step-by-step protocol that would gently guide students through all the complexities of
reading. It had to work in harmony with the brain's sophisticated
neurological architecture, and it had to include everything needed to
enable students to read and comprehend written English. It must
transfer the information on the printed page to the brain smoothly and
logically, and result in an orderly, one-way flow of information.
Nothing like this had ever been done before.
The new strategy proved itself the very first time it was used. The
student was a sixth-grade girl who was stuck at third-grade reading
level. After only 28 hours of instruction she advanced to eighth-grade
level. Her parents and teachers were shocked at the change. Some
called it a fluke. Others called it a miracle in reading instruction. It was neither. It was
a simple matter of putting all the complex components of reading
together in a logical, easy to understand sequence.
that initial success, other students soon responded very much like the
first student had. Some were taught individually or in small groups,
while others were taught in regular school classrooms. They typically
gained between two and six years in total reading skills after only 30
to 60 hours of instruction.
Many of these students had severe learning disabilities.
The new method could not cure their disabilities, but it helped them
to develop strategies for bypassing some of the defective parts of the
brain. In so doing, they suddenly discovered that reading was no longer
a problem. Today learning centers, clinics and schools around the
world use the reading instruction method. Thousands of students of all ages who were
previously doomed to a life of failure and frustration have seen
lifelong barriers crumble.
One California school used the method
in their first- and second-grades. While other schools in the area
failed to reach a 50-percent literacy rate, the first-graders of that
school scored an average of 3.7 [third-grade, seventh month] in reading
while the second-graders averaged 6.2 [Sixth-grade, second month].
Every student scored at grade level or higher.
dyslexic 55 year-old woman said upon completion of the course, "I feel
that I've lived my entire life wandering in a long, dark cave, and now
I'm in the sunshine for the very first time." Her reading level
rocketed from fourth-grade to college level.
The reading instruction method has
proven effective at every stage of learning from preschool to adult
level, as the primary mode of instruction as well as remedial
instruction for the learning disabled. It is called the
Academic Associates Reading Course
It is extremely satisfying to know that so many students have
been saved from a lifetime of failure and frustration because of this
simple, yet effective method of teaching reading, which any good teacher
[If Dick and Jane were around today they would probably
be held back a grade or two, so ineffective was the reading methodology
with which they were taught.]
Using this method also helps with spelling difficult words.
Sign up for our complete reading instruction program now.