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New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

The Ongoing Debate Over Reading Education

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Sam Weaver and Mike Mazza discuss the long-standing “reading wars” in American schools. They explore the historical background of the debate, different approaches to teaching reading, and why phonics has consistently proven to be far superior to whole language methods in instilling a love of reading in children.

Among the topics covered:

  • What phonics is and why it matters;
  • Whole language and other alternative approaches to phonics;
  • The “balanced literacy” approach that mixes phonics with whole language;
  • How the debate over teaching reading unfolded over the decades;
  • Competing underlying theories about how reading works;
  • The evidence for the validity of phonics;
  • The unsound arguments against phonics;
  • Why the need for phonics derives from its use of a conceptual method;
  • Why teachers don’t use phonics in spite of its well-established validity;
  • The irrational philosophical premises that explain the rejection of phonics;
  • Encouraging signs of the resurgence of phonics.

The podcast was recorded on November 9, 2023. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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Ibis Slade

Ibis Slade is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and a content creator. He focuses on American intellectual and moral history.

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