- "More holistic approaches to reading instruction are more child-centered and seem to assert the inherent goodness of the child, which is opposed to the basic Christian doctrine of a sinful nature derived from the fall of Adam."
- "A phonics approach to reading instruction, with its usual dependence on drill and rote memorization, is more compatible with the rigidly disciplined environment of most Christian schools."
- "Often, theorists who believe in a more holistic, meaning-centered reading instruction philosophy have ... suggested that a child's ability to extract the meaning from print is the primary objective of reading any passage. This may sound almost blasphemous to Christians who believe in the literal, verbal inspiration of scripture."
Thogmartin's article provides some confirmation for conclusions I drew in an essay that I once wrote on "The "Ph"undamentalism of "F"onics." Here's an excerpt from that article:
Whole language instruction teaches phonics "indirectly" and "intrinsically" in the context of meaningful reading. The goal of the instruction is grasping the meaning of words in context more than grasping the sounds of letters. Phonics advocates insist that phonics be taught "directly" and "extensively" by routine drill and repetitive instruction in letter sounds. The goal of the instruction is an automatic mental association between sounds and letters. Later the letter sounds will be combined to form an automatic association with the sound of words and the sound of words will automatically be associated with a single meaning.
I was taught to read by the direct-extensive-drill method of phonetic instruction. My recollection is that it was boring to an extreme. We drilled for days and days on sounds without meaning. Then, when we learned that the sounds could make words, our thirst for reading was quickly quenched by reviewing the same words over and over again. Who can forget the monotony of weeks reading, "See Dick run. See Jane run. See Spot run?" The teaching was perfectly designed to make the intellect lethargic, to create a passively receptive mind, and to produce an automaton.I think fundamentalists promote extensive phonics because it is the most likely method to produce minds that will automatically accept a literal interpretation of scripture. They fear that a mind that actively searches for meaning, as whole language encourages, might see beyond the letter of the law to its spirit. Public education has no business developing theories to favor any method of scriptural interpretation. A mind actively searching for meaning is as free to interpret scripture literally as it is to interpret it metaphorically.