The Alphabet has evolved and I didn’t know

I just learned that the Alphabet is rubbish and consequently is now old and outdated.

It may, or may not, as I may be slow in these things, come as a shock to find out that the Alphabet is rubbish, is a bit of a mess, and that as a result, the English language isn’t living its best life.

My child started school a couple of weeks ago and I attended my first parent meeting. I drove directly from work, 30 minutes of traffic lights, listening to “Dragons of Winter Night” by Weis and Hickman. I never actually read parts 2 and 3 of the main Dragonlance Trilogy as a kid.

When I was at school you got books out from the library and it was a bit of a lottery as to what was on the shelves. What was on the shelves of bookstores was also a bit hit and miss. I was fortunate in that I was able to nurture my love of fantasy from an early age but often had read what I could get. This consisted of the books that were not checked out from the library, had been rather recently released, we’re selling poorly selling, or had been fenced to a second-hand book store.

I don’t remember the early days of learning to read but I do remember sitting in front of the principal as a result of a reading scam.

The books were colour coded and had questions at the back, perhaps to test our comprehension. My scam was that I would read the contents and skip the questions at the back. As a result, I remember being one of the top three academics in our classroom. I was reading one of the rather exalted and far more exciting Dark Blue Readers when I was caught.

I suspect the method of capture was that I was questioned as to whether I had, in fact, addressed the questions at the back. I probably lied. Perhaps there was more to it. I remember being taken to the principals' office where it was explained to me that I had done something wrong.

From that point forward…well.

I love reading but don’t much fancy grammar or spelling.

Luckily for me having “Spelling and Grammar” as a lesser strength is a problem that has in large part been solved.

Spelling and Grammar meet spell-checkers and Grammarly.

Limited book choice meet the internet.

Alphabet meet Phonics.

My child will not have to tidy the linguistic mess that his foreparents have left for him in order to learn to read.

True the clutter of the english language has created weird and wonderful forms like yatchs.

Try spelling out yacht.

Yac ht

Ya ch t

There should be no i in friend. Frend would work just fine. Let’s be frends u and not i.

So as much as I am enamoured by the new and improved alphabet that is phonics my introduction to it was a bit trying. I didn’t sleep well, woke at 4am, couldn’t sleep. Went to yoga at 6am, dropped Zoen off to school, work. There I was at the back of the class, which had just started. I was late but my partner had saved me a seat. I was struggling to take on board what was going on.

Phonics apparently has vastly better learning outcomes compared to the brute force approach to learning to read that is the alphabet.

I feel like I should learn more about this disruptive new approach to the English language.

I want to feel smart… I feel a bit blunt, that I am no longer a sharpest tool.

We do a memory test… We are asked what strategies we used to remember… I used a combo of attempted focus and resentment

Others made up stories, counted the total of items, grouped like to like, took a mental picture, started in one corner and proceeded in an orderly way across the page

Thankfully I am not alone, we sabotage each other with hard to phonic words

When I was young I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why we needed to learn English, it was obviously a disorderly mess. Now English has been rehabilitated, rebranded as phonics.

So, summary: I find myself somewhat confronted by the obviously improved and very shiny new alphabet.


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