Eugene Lang gave over $100 million to stimulate education, during his lifetime. Why education?
I met Gene at a charity event, and asked if he gave money to other causes than education. "No," he said. “Nothing else matters!”
I said that I supported a group that stops people around the world from killing each other, which seems important.
“No,” he said. “If you don’t educate their children, they will just grow up and kill each other."
Paul Jones was inspired by Gene Lang’s example. Like Lang, Jones began giving money to students if they could just get into a college.
He and Forbes Magazine did a detailed study on the gains from investing in various sectors of the economy. If we invest $6 trillion in education, the expected payoff will be $225 trillion.
That's almost 40 times the investment! No other sector came close to providing that return. Here is the link.
Elon Musk read every book in his local library by the time he was 10. Then he read The Encyclopedia Britannica. “How else do you know what you don’t know?” he asked Charlie Rose.
Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success. He pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it….”
Bill Gates: “These days, I also get to visit interesting places, meet with scientists, and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”
Charles Darwin: “… to my mind there are no advantages and many disadvantages in lectures compared with reading.”
Reading is the most important skill. Every subject is easier for those who read well. Reading widely adds perspective and understanding.
Here are some of the great readers, who became great leaders. They started from scratch, but everyone knows their names now: Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, President Clinton, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, J.S. Bach. We can give everyone a chance to learn like them!
With technology, today almost everyone can read almost anything, any time, on mobile. But they have to read English. Other languages have almost 90% fewer pages on the Internet, or even less. Please see the table at the left, below.
Also, reading is more than an isolated skill! If a student fails to read English, writing is harder, and so is reading math problems. Maybe even worse, self-esteem and resilience fall.
And if a student doesn’t show persistence, overall learning is sure to fall. No one gets everything right the first time. The ability to keep trying is crucial in every area of learning.
Now if reading improves, then writing and math can improve, and so can self-esteem. The vicious circle that drives children to fail, can be reversed!
We aim to help a billion people around the world. Help us help them!!
What's the Problem?
All over the world, 99% of children speak well. They have no problem with conversation or comprehension or vocabulary.
So why are 35 million Americans illiterate? Why can’t 500 million Indians read English well, their only national language? Why can’t 70% of children, in poor areas of cities like New York and East Palo Alto, read as well as they need to, in order to keep up?
Well, can you read this sentence: . - -- . - - . . - . . - - .
Or this one? 一個人跑了.
The letters of the alphabet are like this Morse code, or these Chinese characters. This sentence will be easy for you now: A man ran.
Now, children need to read at 120 words per minute by second grade, in order to keep up. That's two words per second.
But each word has five letters, on average. This means that a reader must figure out ten letters per second!
Then one must immediately decode another ten letters in the next second, over and over. This need to constantly decode the letters, quickly, creates the problem.
Worse, no teacher has time to go over, and over, all the sounds, with 30 students. One often hears that children who are not reading 120 words per minute, ten letters per second, by the second grade, will never catch up.
Decoding the English letters quickly, over and over, is a problem for every beginning reader. The Thor reading lessons help learners to jump this barrier, as they practice with our own-speed system.
What is Thor's Solution?
Engagement is strongest when learning is interactive. When students are engaged, they progress rapidly. And nothing inspires engagement more than rapid success.
The students in the picture on the left are so focused on studying and learning that it looks like they're playing a video game.
Repetition, self-pacing, and mastery learning all work to make the Thor system successful. Each keystroke must be made correctly. Also, students must complete each lesson correctly, before they move onto the next one. After a small group of lessons is completed, the student's progress is further tested for mastery of that section.
Our system allows students to work at their own speed. So they are able to benefit from as many repetitions as they need, in order to be successful. They can also move ahead as fast as their skill allows.
With Thor, success is not optional; success is natural.
Each lesson uses about ten words – about 50 letters. The student taps each letter during each lesson. In later lessons, these letters are tapped in different contexts. Decoding becomes instantaneous.
This creates a video game feel. And this explains the focus and enjoyment by the students.
Our system allows students to work at their own speed, on Android. They are able to benefit from as many repetitions as they need, in order to be successful. They can also move ahead as fast as their skill allows.
Thor is cost-effective, too. Coaching by a teacher would cost hundreds of dollars per year per student. The Thor reading system is available for less than $5 per year per student.
Our system was used to teach better reading skills to more than 100 first and second grade students, during three different school years. In the beginning of the school years, the average median score was below the 60th percentile.
Their reading improved greatly, using Thor for less than two hours per week. At the end of the school years, their median score was almost at the 90th percentile.
Even a 20% gain is considered a satisfactory result. Their 60% average gain is highly significant.