In my first blog post, I raised the question “Was I Really Hooked On Phonics”? At that point in time, I raised that question in regards to the class theme being the politics of reading. In doing this I answered my question by saying I was not really sure if it was phonics that taught me how to read or other mechanisms but through this course I would be exposed to the many different ways in which reading is established in the classroom.
Although I answered my own question by saying that cultural capital was really the enabler in my reading education, I never stopped to consider why phonics was taught in my classroom in the first place. Throughout this semester we spoke of different developments in education policy that influenced the presence of such systems in the classroom. I found that because of the National Reading Panel Report, “researchers” found that phonemic awareness and phonetic instruction were the best indicators of best teaching practices in reading instruction. The findings of this report would eventually lead to the development of policy in the No Child Left Behind act which would influence education even years after its enactment in the early 21st century.
Throughout my reflection of this course I was able to write about the ways in which restrictive reading programs have truly affected not only the instruction of reading and writing in schools, but also topics of the arts, social studies, and even social justice. I have had the opportunity to speak with students from all walks of life regarding their experiences in the classroom, which have been both similar and far different from my own. I’ve learned about the effects of standardized testing, scripted programs, and incentive programs that have shaped the ways in which education has been provided in this country. I never truly realized the sheer impact of education policy in reading until now.
As my write my final blog post for the course, I now reflect on the question I previously addressed. With the knowledge I know now I can say I was hooked on phonics. Because of policy created by individuals that wanted to push a certain style teaching into the classroom, I was forced to interact in a system that emphasized phonics and a scientific inspection of reading. Would phonics have been a great learning tool had I not already known how to read? There is no surefire way to answer this question but what I do know is that the politics surrounding the education of reading in our schools is a deeply rooted topic that cannot possibly be broken down on a surface level. I have learned that not all decisions made by those in power seem right, or just, or fair. Often times these decisions are made to push political or corporate agendas and sometimes these decision were made to actually fix an inequity in the system. These strict guidelines on reading have seemed to affect reading instruction in a seemingly negative way, but these new developments are not permanent. With the help of community engagement and conversation the way we view reading instruction in classrooms will one day hopefully become a lot less political and much more practical.