The “science of reading” approach is based on phonics, which sounds out the letters of words: Bit. Buh! Ih! Tuh!
The “balanced literacy” approach believes “exposing students to the likes of Dr. Seuss and Maya Angelou is more important than drilling them on phonics.”
One of the most popular reading curriculums in the country — used in about 20 percent of schools… was developed by Lucy Calkins, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is widely admired for her emphasis on helping students develop a love of reading and writing. (Dana Goldstein, “An Old and Contested Solution to Boost Reading Scores: Phonics,” NYTimes, 2-15-20)
Drills versus exposure. Science versus love. There’s no doubt which should prevail.
In teaching Spanish I learned to avoid grammar and drills in favor of instilling in students a passion for traveling abroad. I helped them imagine the many scenarios — airports, restaurants, taxicabs — in which they would spontaneously utter, “Do you speak English?”
In like manner the U.S. Army trains platoons to parade in flawless formation using an approach called “balanced marching.” Sergeants renounce drills; instead, they foster in new recruits a love of rhythmic walking and synchronized motion.
When exposure and love replace science and drills, almost anything you can imagine virtually teaches itself.
(c) 2020 JMN