Reading 2020

Seeing 20/20 and Reading 2020 OR ...

1) Seeing 20/20 and Reading 2020

To see 20/20 starting in 2020 for introducing in schools (and for the next 20 years) a reform, in a phased-in approach.

1) An academy to see 20/20

Many languages have academies! Even the Finns! So, this is a no-brainer, especially considering the state of the spelling system.

It would choose the system that would be taught and learned. The issue is HOW to make it fair so that the organization is free of collusion or corruption and can choose the BEST system because there are MANY different reformers who would love to get the credit and the glory.

I suggest independent bodies made up of university students, some of them being in linguistics, some being in teaching (primary) and some independent linguistics and pick-at-random professors that would oversee the whole process. Groups would be national or regional, led by one professor. Results would be transparent. Elections would be transparent. I suggest multi-staged elections.

2) Phasing-in the change slowly in schools first by 2020

I believe that instead of trying to force everyone to change the way they write (and read), we should regularize English at the school level first and phase the change over two decades --at least-- modifying English spelling ever so sightly, as indicated in the  "fixes" page, where Masha Bell or Dr. Yule's recommendations or systems would be followed, in a committee of experts, teachers, parents, politicians, ... belonging to as many Commonwealth countries wish to participate (video conference please to make it easy and feasible). They would vote on what the best system should be. Another system could be invoked and a debate could occur over 3 or more systems. I think the system that look to modernize English have a better chance to succeed. English has a logical system, but there are just as many exceptions as there are rules. So, the idea is to use the existing rules and regularize all the exceptions. By introducing this kind of change at the school level on a gradual basis starting with K or Grade 1 classes, we would solve many issues that other systems have not been able to solve. Teachers would likely be the one group that would need to teach a new system. As a teacher, I do not see many teachers embracing this kind of change because it would be so onerous on them. Their own materials would be useless, would need to be revamped, and they would need to learn the new system. I am pretty sure teachers unions would be fighting this for ... decades. But, if we were to slowly introduce this change, it would take about two decades to be phased in. Older teachers who are towards the end of their career could teach different grades that are still teaching using the old system or we could have a system where parents could have a say as to which system their kids could learn. In the MEANtime, we could have younger teachers who could be trained to learn the new system and be phased into the system by, say, 2020 for seeing 2020. This approach would comfort the general public in that they would not be required to learn the new system. We would thus have two parallel languages (the old and the new form) being phased in and phased out, respectively. I am not suggesting this reform would be easy, but if announced 10 years in advance, most teachers (new and old) could get prepared for the change. Often, as a teacher, I have experienced changes created by a new minister or new director too eager to make his or her mark to impress or get promotion. Again, it is the system that would be failing us here. It will take a formidable change in the minds of the population where the whole of the population is considered and individual needs are taking a back seat! That would be --in my view-- a huge cultural shift in some cultures where the individual matters more than the group, where elections are won for short-term plans, where capitalist gains from institutions that have invested in education programs using the old system might need to evolve... We might need more than 10 years to change things! Let's see how smart humans really are at changing systems. A reform in other systems might be needed for other reforms to take place! After all, other reforms like the ones about climate changes and ecological issues take time and hard work to be implemented, if they get implemented at all. And, the sad reality is that, until these issues are dealt with, a spelling reform might not be worth much politically as children are not going to get you any votes! BTW, the second-language that could be learned for those kids, would be the traditional and current system.

The second proposal is more drastic. It would still introduce the system to children and not require adults to change anything, but traditional spelling system would be revamped significantly, simplifying it even more, getting rid of rules that are unnecessary to have a functional reading system that most can learn quickly.

No matter which system is used, there is no one who could disagree that the advantage to society would be immense. There would be minor costs, but huge gains for everyone, down to foreign language learners trying to crack the code. And, even though reforms have been attempted and have failed in the past, I think that now is the time to give it a chance. Times are different. We have computers and programs that can easily translate (or transcode) words spelled in the traditional way into the new form. It would be a matter of just pushing a button. It is quite feasible now.

Millions of kids and adults suffer from low self-esteem because they cannot read or spell. While spelling is a minor issue, being illiterate is not. It costs billions. Is it any coincidence that English-speaking kids have 10 to 20 % of students who need special learning assistance programs in reading? It costs lives too. Is it a total coincidence that 80 % of prisoners are illiterate? This needs to change, but you will not be impacted negatively on a personal level. You will not be required to do anything. This reform would be a silent reform. It will take decades. You and I will never need to learn the new system! For that and that reason only, you should support this movement. We owe this to the next generations of kids. It simply does not make any sense to keep the old system. Read this article for more info.

How would the rest of society cope? No street signs or other signs will be changed. There would not be any disruptions on any services for 20 years. Old texts that are written would be digitally edited and transformed using programs that would do that (according to my contacts that would be VERY easy and cheap to do). E-readers in 20 years will be ubiquitous like books are today. Older managers who know only the old code would be given the chance of learning the new code or move to areas of work where there is no need to learn the new code. Salaries would be guaranteed.


The other solution would be to introduce Esperanto (or Ido) as a second language course in all Commonwealth nations. 

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