How does it work?
How do I use it?
Before you start
Phonics vs Whole Language
Why a Patent?
Is RTR an invention?
Just an experiment?
Plans and Hopes
Who is Talking? What is he talking about?
This is the internet, after all, and it can be hard to know who you're dealing
Here I am, suggesting that you download and install some software on your
computer, which is worrying enough with all the security and privacy problems
that are in the news. Then I'm saying you should use it, with your baby in your
lap, as often as the time is right over a period of many months or even a couple
of years, as part of your efforts to raise a competent child.
Furthermore, I'm hoping that you'll be so interested in the
method that you'll help me develop it farther by emailing me the logfiles,
together with any comments or suggestions you have.
Besides all that, I'm hoping that you'll be so pleased with the results when
your toddler shows that s/he can understand the written word that you'll send
some money as a shareware contribution, and also tell other people how great it
is. [Wherever you may be in five years' time, you won't have to worry about
whether your child's school will be good at teaching reading. That will be DONE
ALREADY. Great, yes?]
Those are some pretty big asks, and you have a right to know some things about
me and my discovery before getting involved.
My name is Tom Parsons.
That's me, holding Jennifer, my first grandchild, who is the first to be
exposed to this training. The picture was taken when she was a bit too young to
begin with Right Time Reader, since it was just weeks after her
two-month-premature birth in 2001 (32 weeks, 1500g). It was a hot and muggy February here in New
Zealand - good weather for tiny preemies, but grandpa has to mop the brow.
I am a teacher, mostly, as well as a perpetual student. I have taught
chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, photography, and even world literature
and contemporary world problems. I have taught at public and private high
schools in California, Oregon, Washington, and New Zealand. I also taught at a
community college in Washington, summers and evenings for several years.
Along the way, I attended UCLA (BSc, Chemistry, 1966), including a year of
chemistry in Goettingen, Germany, as part of the first year of UC's education
abroad program. Next it was the University of Oregon (MA, Curriculum and
Instruction, 1971), then Portland State University (chemistry and environmental
science courses, and a brief stint as Science Editor of the student newspaper
I have, or have had, secondary teaching credentials in California, Washington,
Oregon, and New Zealand.
I have also been a chemist in a pharmaceutical research lab, and in a couple of
academic labs. For a few years in the 1990s, I wrote summaries (finally
totaling over 1500) of newsworthy medical research reports for Inpharma, a
weekly journal published by Adis International.
Time for a Change - Why?
Then I went back to school again. This time I went to study psychology. I have
now earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Psychology) at the University of
Auckland, and I may continue working towards a PhD. Several factors determined
First, I had begun to see the end of my affair with the physical sciences. The
frontiers were advancing in every direction faster than I could follow, and I
wanted to follow them all. But at my age, it seemed foolish to try to catch up
with such smart young people as I could see rushing away from me into eleven or
more unknown dimensions.
Where the need is great
I didn't just want a hobby to fill my remaining time, or just to make money - I
wanted to make a difference in the world.
Two years spent teaching a course called Contemporary World Problems to the
entire senior class had immersed me in humanity's troubles. That exposure also
made it clear that
no conceivable breakthrough in the physical sciences could matter as much as an
improvement in our ways of handling human situations would.
Where treasure is waiting
So I looked for a field that dealt with human behavior, and a field that was
not jammed with bright people who were already far ahead of me. Anthropology?
Economics? History? Ah, Psychology!
To the layman I was then, psychology was the epitome of a non-science, claiming
to be a science.
Much of the field is still divided into competing schools of thought. Each has
its own gurus, each of whom has a different outlook on mental phenomena. Many
of these schools, like so many religious sects, are kept isolated and made
mutually incompatible by proprietary jargon. Each school recruits graduate
students to form combat teams, and sends them forth into the world as PhD
missionaries for the faith. Members of different schools of thought cite
only the publications of other members, building networks of mutual support, and
eschewing their rivals except to excoriate them.
In any real science, I knew there should be no schools of thought.
In a real science, someone devises a critical experiment, whose outcome
clearly shows whether or not a theory yields valid predictions. Such critical
experiments should cause instant death for at least one of any two competing
schools of thought. Yet it never seemed to happen that way in psychology.
There appeared to be some serious intellectual weakness in the field.
At first it was precisely the formation and behavior of competing human groups,
like the schools of thought in psychology, that struck me as the most important
phenomenon to understand.
This is the source of major human problems, from Ireland to Israel, and Peru
to Pakistan. [There are so many trouble spots that it is easy to play such
letter-games with them. Try it! Korea to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan to Zaire, . .]
This phenomenon of group-formation and intense competition is surely an evolved
characteristic. It must date back to the time when our ancestors were the
primates whose modern descendants are gorillas and chimps, as well as us
humans. It must also account for the formation of cults and the bizarre
behavior of cultists.
Of course I was right, and of course many psychologists knew that already.
But to find out what they knew, I had to go back to school.
Back to school
First, I had to take a year of coursework to fill in the basics.
My only previous psych course was Psych 1A at UCLA in 1962. At that time, I
could not accept as worthwhile either the authorities who created 'schools of
thought' nor the behaviorism that had come to dominate the field. In 1962, I
was happy to remain in the physical sciences.
For my changeover effort in 1999,
Mike Corballis at the University of Auckland kindly let me start with the
final year (stage three) psych courses (here they are called 'papers'). It was
challenging to begin by competing with students who had already taken two years
of preparatory psychology courses, but it certainly saved time and avoided
boredom. Those courses gave me an overview of the basics and the extent of the
field. I had a lot of fun learning.
The second year, graduate study, was fun in a different way.
I knew that I had been partly right in my outsider's assessment: psychology is
an Aladdin's cave of treasures that often go unrecognized. Also, I learned that there
some very good people in the field who do real, serious science. However,
there are not enough of them to begin to take advantage of all the
So here is an example of the intellectual weakness I found,
that showed me that an outsider with a different background might see things
that the experts in the field have missed. It comes from the user's manual
supplied with a widely-used intelligence test, the WAIS-R. That stands for
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Revised.
Dr Wechsler knew that the existence of a thing called "intelligence", that his
test claims to measure, had been controversial from the start.
So in a personally-written introduction to the user's manual he assured the
professional that intelligence is real, and that his battery of tests measures
The tests do not differ essentially from devices employed by physicists to
measure heat by the use of thermometers or thermoelectric couples.
A thermometer measures temperature, not heat, Dr Wechsler.
So does the more impressive-sounding thermoelectric couple. Any student of
physical science knows the difference between temperature and heat, and how
very important that difference is.
Why did Wechsler feel compelled to justify his test by comparing it with
physics that he did not understand?
Some would call it a symptom of physics envy. Certainly his ignorance,
displayed in a boast-gone-wrong in his best advice to users of his expensive
test, does not reassure us about his own general intelligence, or at least his
Far more importantly,
we know that not one of the many people who must have proofread that
statement before publication, nor any of those around the world who read it in
the earlier printings, knew enough to correct this blunder, which would not
have made it past any of my high school physics students.
Finding evidence such as this gave me some confidence in my quest.
Psychologists experience fewer reality-checks than physicists or chemists.
More often than those in such stringent disciplines, they may fail to recognize
blatant blunders (or opportunities), even when dealing with their own specialty.
Early reading training, with its many benefits, is one of those unrecognized
The current URL is http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~parsonst/who.html
This file was last modified 27-May-2002
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