Queenslander! Queenslander! Queenslander!

Did you watch the first State of Origin Game for the year? For Queenslanders, it was the result we all wanted, but as a ‘not frequent viewer of football’, it struck me as a rather ordinary game – dare I say, boring. When I raised this point with my brother, the knower of all things, (just ask him or his children!!), he did indeed confirm that yes, it was rather routine, five tackles then a kick, repeat. Not exactly sure what that meant, however, I did feel rather smug, that I was not entirely alone on my summary of the game.

Football techniques aside, what I do love about the series is the amount of passion it stirs within spectators. All year, you go about your daily business, never really considering where the people you meet actually originate from, until this time of year. Then it all comes out! Social media is a flood with quips from both sides, bets are made and parties are hosted – what’s not to love! There is, however, nothing that will change the state from which you came, and hence the one-sided support you will always have for that state, no matter how many wins or losses.

This one-sided support, takes me back to a conference I attended recently. We were a group of business owners, learning about ways to take our businesses forward. The participants were engaging and interested in each other’s business, and generally supportive – exactly what you would expect. What I didn’t expect, was to receive an unbridled, passionate attack about the essence of my business. Yes, as you may have guessed, this attacker was also in the business of teaching reading, however, it was through phonics and nothing else! She could not believe I taught children to read through the actual art of reading, based on sight words, with a blend of phonics. For her, it was phonics or nothing. Because I had said the ‘s w’ words – sight words – it was game over.

It was sad really, as most of you know, I am done with arguing about phonics and sight words. I want children to read – desperately! Without reading, there is no learning. Each child is unique, so what works for one child, may not work for another. However, there is, and always will be, one essential ingredient for reading – comprehension. And for this to happen, children actually have to read something, and gain meaning and see a purpose, regardless if they have learnt to decode words through phonics, sight words or a blend of both. If they cannot read a text, and understand what has been read, they are not reading.

So phonics or sight words – which originated first? What works best? I actually don’t care about the answers, I care about the end results – children who can read. Just like State of Origin, regardless of what team you support, it is all about the game – the engagement, the entertainment, the understanding, the sense of purpose and especially, the enjoyment. Without the game, there would be no point in having the teams. A lot like reading really, if you don’t have reading materials, no point in having sight words or phonics!