Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Greek phonics

Edith Foster was led to reflect on Greek phonics by reading this article on phonics by Terrence Moore, which I brought to your attention a few weeks ago. Do you know what a Greek clay pot has to do with phonics? Well, let her explain it to you. It has to do with "potsherd", or pieces of clay pots, the Greek alphabet, and the invention of the Greek alphabet (in order to free writing from memory). A must read. By the way, you might also want to look at Edith Foster’s lesson plan on the origins of the alphabet for the National Endowment for the Humanities.   

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I was recently appalled when my friends visited with their six year-old daughter who was required to learn 50 "sight words" in her kindergarten class. Of course, they have the latest "leap frog" technology, but I’ve never seen them sit down with a book and read to/with them sounding out the words.

To go beyond the mere anecdotal evidence, I am constantly impressed with the citizens of the early republic. It is mind-boggling to think that they sat around a tavern and read and discussed the Federalist Papers with an education that included a few seasons of learning their letters. Or, think of those thousands of citizens that listened for hours to the Lincoln-Douglas debates as they explored difficult concepts but important ones to self-government. Lincoln himself remedied his deficient education by studying Euclid at the Library of Congress to develop his logical thinking skills.

With all of the technology, "free" public school education, record numbers in college, unprecedented access to information, and new, "progressive" ways of learning, would anyone seriously contend that we are as literate and educated as previous generations? And, if we are less educated and probably less virtuous, does this citizenry bode well for our republican "experiment in liberty?"

I do not mean to sound alarmist, negative, or nostalgic, but with our Enlightenment presuppositions of progress, we have ignored the very real possibility of regress as well.

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