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Making Fundamental Changes in Education: Is "Whole Language" Feasible?

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Abstract

The possibility that a novel method, theory, or approach may have a history and may in fact not even be new is often overlooked by educators. A recent example of this is the interest in what is termed Whole Language, which has been presented as an innovation addressing many perceived deficiencies of traditional education. Nevertheless, the precepts of Whole Language can be traced to a change in attitude toward students in the 1600s and 1700s that laid the foundations of modern education. History shows that Whole Language faces many obstacles in its quest for widespread acceptance. First, it takes us back to the ancient notion of teaching as an art rather than a science. Furthermore, Whole Language is unable to demonstrate its superiority with statistics, which is a requirement for introducing radical changes. The tendency to avoid substantial change is thus expected to prevail.

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