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Teaching Children to Read: Picturing the Two Ways

Conventional Learning (memorize) vs. Emergence (visualize)

Recognizing the Two Ways to Learn to Read

There are probably an infinite number of ways to teach reading. Even so, certain teaching methods work better for teachers simply because these methods more closely mimic the way we first learn as babies.

OK. So this makes sense. Use human nature to design teaching methods. Unfortunately, this logic is easier stated than practiced. Why? Because by five, most kids have already lost access to some of their senses. In effect, they have already incurred wounds to certain senses and so, have become less sensitive to these senses. An example?

Some kids are said to be "visual" learners. Some are said to be "auditory" learners. And some are said to be "tactile" learners.

Unfortunately, people do not see these conditions as injuries but rather as each child's nature.

It this true? I believe not. In fact, I am certain that all young children incur injuries to their senses which make them less sensitive to some senses than to others. No surprise that by five, most children have developed biases toward their least injured senses.

How do children respond to these sensory biases?

They favor teaching methods which focus on their least injured senses. Which means they miss out on much of the nature of what they are being taught.

Is there anything which can be done to change these biases though?

Yes, there is. In fact, in the past nine years, I have repeatedly been able to help people who say they are not visual learners to use visualization to heal. In fact, I have been able to help people with all of the learning-sense biases to use vision to heal.

It seems, then, that while children do in fact experience injuries to their five senses early on, injuries that bias their learning style, that seeing things on the screen of the mind is a way for people to bypass these injuries.

This, then; visualization on the screen of the mind; is what I see as the "natural way" for children to learn. And what every baby has in common. Enter Emergence.

Emergence is based entirely on examining peoples' abilities to draw on the screen of their minds. In fact, this ability is at the heart of how we help people to heal their injuries, including injuries to their senses.

How? We focus entirely on what is visually missing rather than on what is visually present, on what they can't see rather than on what they can see..

What follows, then, is a brief explanation of how this focus applies to teaching children to read, and how by focusing on what is visibly present, most teachers actually prevent children from learning to read more than teach them to read.

Reading in four steps

Learning to Read Mentally

What you see above is a drawing of a four-step sequence I call, "Learning to Read Mentally." The four steps are: [1] recite, [2] memorize, [3] recall, and [4] interpret.

Now if you are a teacher and have never heard of this sequence, please don't be surprised. No teacher is ever taught that this sequence is what they have been taught to teach.

Despite not being told, though, most conventional reading teachers actually do use this sequence to teach children to read.

What is important to note here are the two parts which teachers are aware of, the [1] “recite” and the [4] “interpret” parts. Conventional schools call these two parts, "reading" and "reading comprehension."

What makes noticing these two parts significant?

They are the only two "visible" parts. This means they are the only two parts schools acknowledge and grade.

Again, what is important to see is, only the two visual parts; the [1] “recite” and [4] “interpret” parts; are graded. This means neither of the two non-visual parts (the [2] “memorize” part nor the [3] “recall” part) are ever acknowledged or taught.

What makes this omission so important?

Basically just one thing. That children who are taught to read this way are rewarded more for successfully regurgitating words rather than for visualizing what they read.

So what's the big deal?

The big deal is, children taught to regurgitate words more resemble “parrots” than readers. Why? Because the actual sounds they see and speak become more important than what those sounds represent; meaning beneath these words; the living pictures. This makes most of what we speak, read, write, and hear verbal rather than visual.

So OK, is this really so important?

Yes it is. Why? Because "if you didn't picture it, you didn't say it. Neither did you write it, or read it, or hear it."


Can this be true?

Try it for yourself.

Try talking face to face to someone you love, a young child preferably.

Now ask this child if he or she wants "to understand what you're saying." Make sure you're looking eye to eye now.

Did you get a blank look looking back at you?

Of course.

Now ask, "do you want to cuddle?" This time, though, look at this child and picture what you're saying as you say it.

So, OK. "Understand" is a big word and "cuddle" is not. Even so, try to picture the word "understand." Now don't be surprised when you, yourself, can't picture a thing.

The word "understand" is a hollow word. In fact, not only is this word a hollow word, it's also a non-visual word, at least, for most folks.

Children do not understand non-visual words. [Not picturing what I've just said?]

Children love cuddling. [Seeing a picture now?]

Seeing words on the screen of your mind is what makes words come alive. It's also the missing piece in traditional teach-children-to-read methods, with a few exceptions, of course.

These exceptions aside, though, schools neither teach nor acknowledge the two visualization parts of reading, this despite the fact that visualizing what you read, write, speak and hear is what brings it to life.

How about the few children who do picture what they read? How do they fit into this picture?

They will be the kids about whom teachers will say, "they have the most reading and writing aptitude." Sadly, because all babies start out in life as visual learners, all kids have this same potential in them. But because children are taught to mentally learn to read, picturing what they read happens only by accident, if at all. This means it is also only by accident some children will learn to love reading.

Ironically, what could change this would be if teachers did focus on the two parts which go by unnoticed, on the "memory" and "recall" parts. Why? Because they are the only two parts of reading which make words come alive. And because what children are actually taught is to focus more on correctly parroting sounds than on visually grasping what they read.

Emergence reading order

Learning to Read Visually

When teachers use the principles of Emergence to teach children to read, children get taught, right from the start, that picturing words is the learning priority, rather than memorizing the sounds. Thus, right from the start, children get encouraged to notice when they have "lost the picture." They are then taught to stop reading when they have not pictured what they have read, and if necessary, to ask the teacher for help picturing whatever words they can not see.

Later, because children have pictured what they have read rather than simply to have spoken it out loud, they can easily use their imaginations to "step back into what they pictured." Here, they can speak personally about what they saw, because they themselves are in the picture.

Important also is the fact that because children taught this way get to create their own pictures from what they read, reading for them more resembles listening to an old time radio broadcast than just listening to someone else say words. Thus, these children get to play an active role in their reading experiences and because they do, these children learn to love reading. And want to be taught more about it.