Unkind to kids

A recent article in The Conversation (like many others)

tells us that school attainment is heavily linked to social class

as assessed by parental occupation, education and household income.

It shows no awareness that this applies mainly to English-speaking countries

because learning to read and write English is vastly harder than in other languages

and more dependent on the help kids get at home, from the day they are born.

How they are spoken to, how much they their parents read to them

the games they play with them before they start school

and the help they give them when they first start learning to read and write

in English all make an enormous difference.

It’s vastly harder to decipher and fathom spellings like

many men’, ‘once only’ and ‘through rough troughs

if you haven’t met them before starting school,

if you have not already spent several years half-learning them,

by meeting them in picture books,

comfortably ensconced next to mum or dad.

Learning to read and write in languages that always spell

the /e/ sound as in ‘the ten men then went…’,

or /o/ only as in the ‘pot got hot on top’ and

/oo/ just as in ‘food, mood’ and ‘brood’,

is ten times easier than with the English spelling mess.

More sensible spellings

make kids’ educational prospects much less dependent on their parents.

We could make children’s early school years much fairer,

less stressful and more enjoyable

by removing at least the very worst gremlins from English spelling.

Old spellings like ‘ytte, inne, hadde‘ look a bit daft to us now,

but we keep using ‘give, have, live‘ alongside ‘five, drive, strive’

and monstrosities like ‘through rough trough

without any thought what they do to kids.

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