We at Sounds-Write have long puzzled over why it is that government minsters, literacy specialists, college professors and whatnot aren't utterly and completely persuaded by the results we get with our programme. In our longitudinal study on over fifteen hundred pupils being taught using Sounds-Write throughout Key Stage 1, over ninety percent were within six months of their chronological age on a properly normed and standardised spelling test, a very good measure we thought of how literate they were.
What was even more amazing about these results is that they weren't cherry-picked. We took all the data teachers from a wide number of schools across the country gave us. Where the programme was being implemented with great fidelity the results were more impressive still: in one school 98% of children (forty-nine out of fifty pupils) scored above their chronological age on the test.
However, as the New Scientist points out in its latest issue (13 November 2010), 'for believers in rationality, the modern world is often a frustrating and bewildering place'. Why? Because quack superstitions, beliefs and irrational remedies are thriving and a 'cold-eyed blend of objectivity, data and logic' is just not sufficient. The editorial argues that 'human beings are not wired for logic'.
Whenever I run a training for teachers, I always bear in mind the late Jeanne Chall's dictum: twenty-five percent of trainees will embrace the ideas and the methodology presented with enthusiasm and implement the programme with absolute fidelity; fifty percent will also implement the programme, except that they will be unable to resist bringing in ideas and approaches they've always clung on to even when they run counter to the new approach; and, twenty-five percent either won't, for all sorts of reasons, implement the programme, or they'll do it so badly that it doesn't work.
H Rider Haggard explained it very well in his introduction to Allan Quatermain over a hundred and thirty years ago; but that's another story.