Letter to the Editor

Experiences of a mother

I read the article “Schluss mit Schbas!” (=“Enough with schbas! (fun)”) about the spelling method “Writing  by listening” by Dr Reichen with great interest. We are affected parents of four children from Thuringia – now adults. While our daughter, who started school in 1995, was still being taught according to the GDR system (which was adopted by Finland). The children of this age group coped very well with it. The same primary school two years later set our son the example of “writing by listening”. The school received EU funding for this. The result of this example was a child who left the 4th grade for the regular school completely insecure, barely familiar with reading and writing. Many pupils of this class went to a comprehensive school. There the German teacher wrote a dictation in class 5 in order to get an overview of the knowledge. The result was sobering, because all these students who were taught according to Dr Reichen’s system had more than 20 mistakes to show. As the ability to grasp textual tasks was insufficient, the children also had problems in other subjects.
Since the creativity of the pupils should not be disturbed, there were no rules, no order system, no domestic practice in the primary school for two years.
We have invested about 1000 Euro in the tutoring to work through everything that was missed in four years. But what about the children whose parents cannot afford this money?
Thanks to the commitment of the German teacher in the secondary school and the tutoring, our son was able to write and read safely after grade 6. The energy used for this could have been used by the child for other purposes.
Already in the 1st grade some parents had critically questioned this system with the headmaster and the class teacher. Objections and discussions were dismissed. Also the school office did not answer our calls.
The third child was also taught according to this method, and we had to invest a lot of money in tutoring.
The fourth child we trained despite resistance of the school office in another primary school, which still taught with the primer. Like his sister, he had no difficulty reading or writing.
After the reunification, we were horrified when the headmasters and teachers immediately jumped at the new methods from the old federal states, adopted them without criticism and threw proven learning principles overboard overnight. It also appeared that critical teachers were silenced.
We can only encourage all parents to oppose Dr Reichen’s learning principle of “writing by listening” with all their might, as it suggests children to have abilities that they actually do not have, that is to write texts three months after school enrolment. None of the flowery promises about the benefits of this learning method have come true.

Katrin Kirchner, Erfurt

(Translation Current Concerns)