Teachers Don't Ignore Phonics

As an elementary-school reading teacher working toward a graduate degree in reading, I was taken aback by the article "The Connection Between Failed Lives and Reading Failure" July 8. I have never heard of a "look-say/whole language" method of teaching reading. "Look-say" is a method of teaching reading, but "whole language" is a philosophy of education that underlies the whole curriculum. To connect the two and call them a method of teaching reading is misleading.As a proponent of the whole language philosophy of education, I realize that there are many myths surrounding this philosophy, one of which is the myth that phonics should not be a part of teaching reading. Although whole-language proponents do not teach phonics in isolation, i.e. worksheets and drill and practice methods, we do teach phonics within the context of authentic reading and writing. Mary O. McCarty, Ithaca, N.Y. Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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