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It has occurred to me that the cause of America's illiteracy crisis has been discovered. It is the reading curriculum in our schools. Unfortunately, the damage to children appears to extend way beyond reading failure. One wonders if the hidden agenda in the readers has created our victim culture, a generation of withdrawn and resentful children, alienated from themselves, their parents, society, books and ideas.
When reviewing the school readers, I had noticed an impoverished vocabulary, composed mostly of three and four letter words. I brought this up with the teacher. She explained that the readers were integrated into a district policy that no more than five hundred new words be introduced to students during any grade level. The idea was to protect children from the dizzying and confusing effects of an overabundance of words and ideas.
Example textbook: Once upon a time there was a little green mouse who hopped after a tiger onto a yellow airplane. The plane turned into a big red bird in flight, and the mouse turned into a blue pumpkin. The pumpkin fell to the ground and its seeds grew into pots and pans.
Once upon a time there was a little green mouse who hopped after a
tiger onto a yellow airplane. The plane turned into a big red bird in
flight, and the mouse turned into a blue pumpkin. The pumpkin fell to
the ground and its seeds grew into pots and pans.
1) "What color was the mouse?"
2) "Why do mice turn into pumpkins?"
3)"How do seeds grow?"
When a child-figure in the stories split away from his group, for
example, he would get rained on, his toes would get cold in the snow,
or he would experience some other form of discomfort or torment.
Similar material was repeated ad infinitum. Through their reading, our
students would feel the stinging rain and the pain of freezing toes.
They would learn the lesson like one of Pavlov's dogs: avoid the pain,
stay with the group.
Animal dads, moms, and grandparents were portrayed over and over
in various combinations as mean, stupid, unreliable, bungling, impotent
or incompetent. Relationships with their children were almost always
dysfunctional; communication and reciprocal trust were non-existent. A
toxic mom or dad, for instance, might have stepped in to help our
youthful squirrel repair his wagon, only to make matters worse and
wreak emotional havoc in the process.