Sam Blumenfeld – A Lifetime of Service – A Giant Intellect – A Good Friend
Sam Blumenfeld – Remembered
For nearly 35 years of the nearly 90 years Sam lived among us, he was my friend. Sam became a mentor and my teacher in 1983 when I met him at a conference of the Reading Reform Foundation conference in Toronto, Canada. He was a speaker and his scholarly, gentle, yet penetrating comments grabbed my attention like no one I had met for a long time. His passion for improving reading instruction in America and around the world has become my passion too. At the time I was on the staff of President Ronald Reagan and Sam’s admonition that all children needed to be taught the alphabetic principle, early and completely, seems logical and sensible to me. At that time, I really had no idea that the education industry was totally opposed to his simple and direct approach to reading instruction. I had no idea of the terrible tide of illiteracy that was sweeping the nation due to the progressive education theories that had become foundational to education practice worldwide.
When I read his book The New Illiterates: And How To Keep Your Child From Becoming One (1973) I knew I had stuck a jackpot of information. Sam and I became lifelong friends and colleagues and I have been enlightened and strengthened in my conviction that ALL children can be taught to read proficiently, IF teachers/parents use the right tools to instruct them. It need not be some complicated, expensive program or process either. Sam’s Alpha Phonics remains a classic instructional guide, and as relevant today as when he wrote it.
My wife Joy and I had dinner with Sam about a year ago in Waltham, MA at one of Sam’s favorite restaurants. We always enjoyed being with him. He brought a galley proof of Phonics for Success with him and told us that he wanted to be “The Noah Webster” of the 21st Century. (During the 19th century more than 100,000,000 of the Noah Webster’s Blue Backed Speller were sold. It is primarily how America became literate during that period in American history) He was convinced, as I am, that this simple to follow book would transform children all across the world into proficient readers, and accurate spellers of the English language. His desire was to have Phonics for Success available for less than $10 so that ANYONE could have a copy. He wanted it to be available at Amazon, Walmart, Target, in bookstores, and online, so that the intractable illiteracy problem that has plagued America for generations could be stopped.
Today Phonics for Success is available on Amazon for less than $10! http://www.amazon.com/Phonics-Success-Samuel-L-Blumenfeld/dp/1495144216/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433516749&sr=1-1&keywords=phonics+for+success
Sam was not interest in producing an expensive and complex program that most parents could never use or apply at home or in school without extensive training and at great cost.
Sam’s legacy and his wisdom in many areas of life will long endure, but perhaps his most important legacy is to spread the good news that YOU can teach YOUR child to read, and often before they ever enter the formal school classroom. It is the best “reading insurance” you can buy….and it is less than the cost of two cups of coffee at Starbucks.
Why not give Phonics For Success as a gift to every kindergarten, first and second grade teacher you know. Let’s make Sam the “Noah Webster” of the 21 Century and teach ALL of children to read!
We will miss you Sam.