On Teaching and Tutoring (Part 3)

By:  Sam Blumenfeld
09/04/2012
       
On Teaching and Tutoring (Part 3)

 Tutoring is undoubtedly the most effective way of teaching anybody anything. It is the method that has been used since biblical times for fathers to teach their sons. In the Middle Ages nobles hired tutors to teach their heirs long before schooling was invented. Indeed, schooling did not become the dominant mode of education until the industrial revolution when the state got into the education business. In the United States, schooling started in New England with the common schools and private academies. Protestant denominations created schools which have become today’s prestigious prep schools for the rich. But because of the egregious failures of American public schools, tutoring is now being used by more and more parents who want their children to get the education they need.

 Tutoring is undoubtedly the most effective way of teaching anybody anything. It is the method that has been used since biblical times for fathers to teach their sons. In the Middle Ages nobles hired tutors to teach their heirs long before schooling was invented. Indeed, schooling did not become the dominant mode of education until the industrial revolution when the state got into the education business. In the United States, schooling started in New England with the common schools and private academies. Protestant denominations created schools that have become today’s prestigious prep schools for the rich. But because of the egregious failures of American public schools, tutoring is now being used by more and more parents who want their children to get the education they need.

I got involved in tutoring by happenstance. I had become aware of the reading problem back in the early 1960s and realized that schools could no longer be relied on to teach a child to read in the proper phonetic manner. Rudolf Flesch, with his famous book Why Johnny Can’t Read, published in 1955, made us aware that it was the whole-word method being used in the schools that was the cause of the reading problem.

In 1973 I decided to write a history of the reading problem, The New Illiterates, and bring the story up to date. After doing a detailed analysis of the "Dick and Jane" reading program (the basal readers written by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp and published by Scott Foresman), I concluded that the look-say, whole-world method indeed caused reading disability and dyslexia. What parents needed was an easy-to-use phonics program that they could use to teach Johnny and Sally to read at home. So I followed up The New Illiterates with a book in which I showed parents how to teach their children the three Rs at home in the traditional manner. Its title was How to Tutor. It’s been in print since 1973 and has been used by thousands of parents to teach their kids at home.

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