Posted by: Bob C. Cleckler | August 22, 2013

Why Haven’t We Improved Reading Education?

Anyone who has honestly read this and some of the other Ending Illiteracy blogs (,,, and trying to understand the content, not merely to find something interesting or amusing to read, may very well be wondering why nothing has been done to carry out what is obviously a solution to our serious literacy problems in English. There are two basic reasons.

The first reason we have not implemented a proven solution to illiteracy in English can be blamed on human nature. People instinctively resist change — even change for the better in some cases. Change requires us to leave what is “comfortable” and familiar for something unknown. Very often people would rather continue the disadvantages of the known than to embrace the advantages of the unknown. If the change has a monetary cost, as it often does, people resist the expenditure for fear that the planned change is not really necessary and will not result in an overall reduction in cost in the future.

Two brief examples will confirm this understanding of the attitude toward change.

As an engineer in a solid-propellant rocket manufacturing facility charged with ensuring that manufacturing procedures would not cause an unintended explosion or damage the product in any way, I often had to convince workers to change their procedures. Even though the engineering group had carefully analyzed each step in the procedure and had scientifically proven that the change was needed, workers were often convinced that the way they were performing the operation was better.

A second example, involving a costly change, occurred in a small town in the West. There was a long stretch of straight highway with a speed limit of 50 mph but on which cars often exceeded that speed. In the middle of that stretch of road there was a cross-street from a residential area. Cars attempting to enter the long, straight stretch of road often had to wait a long time before they could pull onto the road. Residents in the area requested a stop light at the intersection for several years because it was an unsafe intersection. Several incidents ended in dangerous collisions. The town resisted installing stop lights for several years. It was not until someone was killed at the intersection that the town finally installed the stop lights.

In the case of spelling reform, we have the entrenched experiences of thousands of teachers, parents, and companies attempting to teach students to read what is undoubtedly the most illogical, inconsistent, and chaotic spelling of any language. These thousands of people and companies have exerted so much effort and have (in their minds, at least) been so successful in teaching reading despite the difficulties that they are not searching for “a better way.”

The second reason we have not implemented a proven solution to illiteracy is that although what is required is very simple and logical (spell our words the way they sound) the justification for changing the spelling requires the understanding of a very large number of facts that those resisting change are often unwilling to honestly look at. When something simple requires a complicated justification, it is easier to simply say, “That is too good to be true” than to make the effort to decide the truth or falsity of what is proposed.

Our ridiculous spelling causes serious problems, not only the illiterates but also those of us who are literate. Anyone who is truly compassionate about these problems will want to honestly check the website providing the factual justification for correcting our spelling, Anyone who doubts that correcting our spelling is really necessary is challenged to discover the facts presented in this website.


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