Fusion: Deakin Exhibits Online

Reading education tools


Published in 1911, The Tasmanian Illustrated First Primer showcases the use of phonics as a method for reading education.  This method of sounding out each letter to create the word was advocated, along with games and activities to stimulate learning.  Of particular interest in this book is the transition halfway through the book from “script” to “print”, along with an explanation by the author of the need for children to be able to recognise both forms. Although this educational tool is beautifully illustrated, the pictures are specifically noted as devices to simply “create interest” and are “NOT an essential part of the lesson”.

In a further development in reading education, The Teaching of Reading to Infants from the 1930’s introduced the Progressive Primer Method of Teaching Reading.  This method provided teachers with a dual approach to reading education, focusing on visual and phonic work, based on the premise that children read for content, by associating an idea with a word.

Identifying the importance of visualisation took precedence, with this method proscribing that children should begin by becoming familiar with the look of letters and words.  This carefully illustrated book gave teachers examples of letters and words accompanied by simply drawn images to link the two concepts together to create an idea in the mind of the child.  Phonic methods were subsequently recommended to further enhance reading abilities by enabling children to sound out new words.  This new approach combining the two methods of visualisation and phonics claimed to be an improvement on exclusively phonics, where reading progress was often stilted and unrealistic.

The style of spelling education tools for older school children can also be seen through The Federal Spelling-Books, which provided teachers of children aged eight to ten with a structured and systematic regime of speaking and writing words, followed by forming new words according to standard spelling rules.  For older students in secondary schools, a spelling book could consist of simply 36 pages of words gradually increasing in difficulty, accompanied by “Words often Misspelt”, as shown in the 1906 Rigby’s South Australian Spelling Book for Advanced Classes and Secondary School.