Column One: Curriculum

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The International Reading Association has expressed concern about the promotional claims being made for "Hooked on Phonics," a widely advertised program that claims to help children and adults become "super readers" through the use of workbooks, cassette tapes, and flash cards.

The association's concerns are based on a review of the program conducted last spring by prominent researchers in the field---including the Harvard education professor Jeanne Chall and Jean Osborn, associate director of the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Their strongest criticism: The materials concentrate only on sounding out words and not on constructing meaning from them.

The researchers also said that the program cannot always be used alone, as its advertising says, because students have no way of knowing if they are decoding the words in the workbooks correctly.

John Shanahan, president of Gateway Products Inc., the California company that markets the $179.95 kit, disagreed.

"The average ist grader has a vocabulary of 24,000 words," he said. "When they use the phonics program they're tapping into that knowledge."

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $216,000 grant to a nationally known curriculum developer to create new frameworks for teaching high-school and postsecondary biology.

The Colorado-based Biological Sciences Curriculum Study--more commonly known by the initials B.S.C .s-began the 1 l-month project this month.

B.S.C.S. has published biology textbooks since 1958, constantly updating them as warranted.

But Cathrine M. Monson, a spokesman, said that the new, three-step initiative is the most comprehensive effort to revise the curriculum in the organization's recent history.

With the 500th anniversary of Columbus's journey to the Americas just a year away, the Network of Educators on Central America has already received 30,000 requests for "Rethinking Columbus,"a teachers' guide presenting an "alternative" viewpoint on the historic event. The 96-page guide was published this month in collaboration with Rethinking Schools, an education journal. It contains short stories, poems, and other features discussing the event from Native American and African-American perspectives.

More information on the guide is available from Rethinking Schools, 1001 East Keefe Ave., Milwaukee, Wis. 53212.--D.V. & P.W.

Vol. 11, Issue 08, Page 6

Published in Print: October 23, 1991, as Column One: Curriculum
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