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Last week, I was looking at "Why Johnny can't read" (Rudolf Flesch, 1955) where Flesch quotes some professors's advice about what readers should do when encountering new words.
There is a list of a half-dozen items. The last one is phonics. The student is supposed to use phonics only as a last resort. This is quite nutty but it's the official doctrine of K-12 education for many decades.
At about the same time, I saw a video where a professor from Minnesota, I think, has his own list of three or four items. Same gimmick. Phonics is the last one. You should consider context, grammar, syntax, picture clues, all kinds of things. But the one way that actually works should not be used if possible.
So you see two variations of the same bad advice 60 years apart.
In a nutshell, this is how our public schools have created 50 million functional illiterates.
If we could stop our Education Establishment from giving so much bad advice, we really could save the public schools.
Here is a quick explanation of why phonics is the essence of reading, and all the other stuff is like pebbles in your shoes.
"Reading IS phonics."