Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

A Siyuntist’s Perspective


Little Johnny can read well long before he can spell well. Should you be worried? Should you send him to a tutor?

Problem-solving technique can be deductive/analytical or inductive/synthetic. Stated another way, an approach can be convergent or divergent.

For every youngster striving for literacy, learning to read and spell requires both convergent and divergent thinking. When reading an unfamiliar word, the child deduces/analyzes, using past phonics lessons and similar-looking words from which to build a guess. Thus, for a kindergartner whose rudimentary reading skills are somewhat developed, a new word like president presents no insurmountable difficulty. Previously learned examples enable the reader to converge more or less successfully.

einstein460x276[1]A word like scientist, however, requires both deduction and induction. How is the c sounded? Is the i long or short? Context provides the clue from which the child may be able to synthesize the correct pronunciation.

Because deduction builds stepwise from past lessons, while induction relies upon wider generalizations that may not yet be within the child’s orbit, the former is inherently more productive.

Spelling, however, leans more heavily than reading upon synthesis.

The paper is blank. My grandson needs to spell scientist, a word he has never before written. He charges into the unknown.


He succeeds! Is there a more synthetically correct spelling than siyuntist? If English spelling were based on sense, rather than history, siyuntist would be the korekt spelling.

The drawing, BTW, is of an “elechtrec” rover machine. I know. I asked.

One Comment

  1. AND… the kid knows what he wants to be! Scientist/siyuntist has been on the brain now for over a year!

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