Sister Mary Caroline

Sister Mary Caroline was a teacher in the Catholic diocese of Chicago. Her phonics teaching method was shared widely among other teachers in their Catholic schools. Her book Breaking the Sound Barrier was published in 1960 by Macmillan. In her foreword, she wrote

It was not my intention to write a book. Nor was it my intention to tell anyone how to teach. But because I have been asked by so many people for the techniques I use in the teaching of reading, I have compiled this handbook. If you, through using these techniques, experience the satisfaction I have experienced, this book will have achieved its purpose.

Her direct ("synthetic") instruction in phonics was in stark opposition to the "analytic" look-say or word method developed in 1930 by William S. Gray, Director of Research in Reading at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Chicago. Gray's very popular look-say basal reader series "Dick and Jane," published by the major educational firm Scott, Foresman, was at the height of its popularity in the 1950s when Rudolf Flesch famously attacked their "look-say" method in his book Why Johnny Can't Read, And What You Can Do About It.

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