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I've got many hundreds of articles on the Internet about education. So I'm embarrassed to admit that just today I stumbled on one of the most obvious metaphors for much of what goes on in our public schools. Embarrassed but still overjoyed. This metaphor is just too wonderful.
Here is how Wikipedia defines a snipe hunt: "A snipe hunt or fool's errand is a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task."
Here's the point of convergence: a lot of what passes for reading instruction is really a curious array of fool's errands.
That is, teachers are made to teach things, and students are made to waste time learning those things, but none of these things contribute to literacy. For example, Ken Goodman came up with his three-cueing system 50 years ago. Little children are supposed to use context and semantics to read English? What kind of grass are these people smoking?
Nowadays, the generic term for a lot of these bogus activities is "word attack skills." Most are not skills you need and don't do much in the way of attacking. Here's an article about this very phenomenon:
Point is, if the students are busy learning all these Irrelevant skills, when are they going to settle down to the simple but necessary job of learning phonics?
The theme running through so much of progressive education is to keep children busy doing things that don't need to be done. I.e., hunting for snipe.
The original title for the above article was "How K-12 schools keep children illiterate."