Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's a Wonder I Can Read



I was born in 1960. And although I am technically at the end of the Baby Boom generation, I think that my generation would be better known as the “Experimentation Generation.” Not as in the fact that we experimented with "things," although we did, but more that we were experimented upon.

By the time I arrived at elementary school, the educational wizards of the world had brainstormed and were excited to offer me and my peers two groundbreaking concepts: New Math and ITA (Initial Teaching Alphabet). Since I am horrible at math, I cannot even tell you what New Math was except that it meant that our parents couldn’t help us with our homework because they had no clue what we were doing. But ITA was something I remember very well.

Here is what ITA looks like:


Here’s what they say that ITA was supposed to do: The Initial Teaching Alphabet is a phonemic alphabet based on the phonemic sound system of the English language. It was designed to present the beginning reader and writer with a logical and reliable reading and writing system. The phonemic alphabet consists of 44 sound-symbols with each symbol or character representing one sound in a word. The alphabet adheres closely to traditional orthography. The symbols are lowercase. Certain conventional English spellings have been retained such as the c and k, which have the same sound.

While all that is true, it simply meant that by the time we reached about 3rd grade, we had to relearn the alphabet, thanks to ITA. Sure, we learned to read more quickly, but what good was it if what we read had no basis in reality? It’s not like there was a bookstore full of ITA books. They could have taught us Greek or French or Spanish or German in that time and at least we would have come out of it with some useful skills!

Although the ITA Foundation will say otherwise, it is commonly believed that ITA was a giant failure, which is probably why it is rarely used today.

Today, one of the biggest concerns of today's parents is whether or not Instant Messaging will be the end of good grammar. I am a testament to the fact that sometimes kids can learn, despite what they are taught in school, so I wouldn't lose sleep over IMing. However, I will say this: If somebody tries to teach your child to read through ITA. Run...run away faest.

23 Comments:

At 8:14 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Karen, thanks for the visit. I came to see what you would say about curious George. Interesting that we both posted him today. I am 20 years older than you, I never learned math well either, but I am sure glad I wasn't taught to read by the method you describe!

 
At 6:46 AM , Blogger Paige said...

I just missed both those. Yeah for me.
Hi here by way of Michele's today.

 
At 5:09 PM , Blogger Becky said...

I can't imagine it would help, you're right in that it comes down to being taught the correct usage and then reinforced in school and at home.

Came by way of Michele's.

 
At 8:42 PM , Blogger David said...

nice to see you at michele's and thanks for backing my opinion up, I am so glad you learned to read... AND to write. I like your site.
Praying for your son to have a huge success at college this year. and hoping you have a box of kleenex handy

 
At 10:22 PM , Blogger Shane said...

wow, kinda wild - like e-bonics or sumtin'

and here I was feeling bad that "pidgin English" was my first language.

Eh, Michele tol me to go come see your blog sistah!

 
At 12:06 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh My Lord....That looks horrendous! I do not think I would have learned very well, at all! UGH!

 
At 12:56 AM , Blogger moon said...

I was born 3 yrs after you, I am thankful I wasn't taught that where I grew up!...But some of the stuff they came out with in our generation was rediculous as u say, we were experimented on.
Here via Michele's today, have a great day.

 
At 6:22 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Back again, via Michele. Gotta' run, the movers are coming!!

 
At 9:28 AM , Anonymous Terri said...

Great post. I remember hearing about this math and way of reading. My children's school did the math but not that type of reading. I'm not surprised it was a total failure and glad to hear you survived it all very well.
OH....visiting here from Michele's.

 
At 9:33 AM , Blogger Just a trumpet player said...

Oh !!! We had the same kind of program... but in French. That was the weirdess thing ever !

Michele sent me. Have a great weekend !

 
At 1:36 PM , Blogger kristen said...

michele sent me. ::waves:: HI!
when i first saw the title, i was thinking that perhaps it was catalan, but it ISN'T! wow! i haven't even heard of that! very interesting. and i was born only 10 years after you.

 
At 11:15 AM , Blogger srp said...

Wow! I missed that experiment, thank goodness. It sounded a bit Sweedish when I read it outloud. I think a child would have learned better to learn old fashioned phonics and the rules first.

 
At 11:15 AM , Blogger srp said...

Wow! I missed that experiment, thank goodness. It sounded a bit Sweedish when I read it outloud. I think a child would have learned better to learn old fashioned phonics and the rules first.

 
At 10:46 PM , Blogger jenny said...

I know I'm getting old because when I see those IM abbreviations and spellings I want to wag my finger and say "you kids today..."

Michele sent me :)

 
At 10:49 PM , Blogger Leah said...

Yes, that is totally weird...
I would have enjoyed Math better if I that was the way English was taught... Glad you learnt better, 'shows in your blog.

 
At 9:40 AM , Anonymous David said...

Hi, I wandered in here from Michelle's blog.

 
At 3:40 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

Ah, but you had Curious George, so all was OK in the end. That beautiful monkey could overcome the nefarious plans of misguided so-called educators everywhere.

I love the story behind CG, too. His creators were French Jews who loaded the original drawings for their monkey into the basket of their bicycles and rode out of Paris a few hours before the advancing Nazis.

Yet another reason to love him. I particularly related to his surgery after swallowing the puzzle piece. For a child who grew up in hospitals, I could easily relate.

 
At 3:46 PM , Anonymous Sparkling Diamond said...

Holy rotten letters Batman! I have never seen ITA thank goodness! I'm a few years younger than you and had not seen this...I guess it ended rather quickly? What were they thinking???
Here from Michele's!

 
At 5:56 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Hi, Karen, Michele wanted mew to come back and tell you I am home now....LOL

 
At 5:50 AM , Blogger Star said...

I never saw ITA, thank goodnesss. What is wrong with the tried and true method?I realize it requires some effort on the students part, but o does anyhting worth learning.

 
At 6:52 AM , Blogger cmhl said...

I have not heard of ITA before, how bizarre!

 
At 6:50 PM , Blogger h&b said...

Wow! Thanks for the insight - I wonder if that version of "Curious George" is now worth a fortune ?

Glad I learned to read the 'normal' way ;)

 
At 9:18 PM , Blogger vanx said...

Have you had to deal with "the multiple intelligences" yet? The experimentors are still in the schools! I'm for pitchforks and torches.

New Math ain't Old School--if they had bumpers stickers in the early 1960s (I don't remember, did they?) that would be one. It would introduce Hip Hop 25 years before its time.

 

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