Mae Carden dedicated her life to children, striving to ensure that every child had the best opportunity to reach his or her full potential. To achieve this, she contested many of the educational methods that had gone unchallenged for years.
Thus she began her one-woman crusade to teach children to read in a bold revolt against progressive education. Her techniques spread throughout the parent, teacher, and administrative groups who began to realize superior performance by the pupils by this new method of learning. Miss Carden stressed the importance of applying the Carden method early in the educational process.
In this way, the phonetic method becomes automatic, free and easy. “The alphabet,” Miss Carden used to tell her teachers, “is one of learning’s great labor-saving devices. It takes the forbidden mystery out of reading.”
Miss Carden believed that comprehension provides the intellectual character of learning. Comprehension is facilitated by exercising mental imagery. For example, she avoided inclusion of pictures in her textbooks, in order to avoid distraction children. “Pictures,” she said “deprive children of the joy of imagery.” This exercising of the imagination allows children to look behind words and achieve greater levels of comprehension. Miss Carden finished by remarking, “The child learns to look and see and observe and conclude and analyze.”
No article on Miss Carden would be complete without sharing some of her words of wisdom. In speaking about marks and different students, she remarked, “I have a great respect for the C pupil. The A pupil memorizes. The C pupil has to think things through. He’ll make the money.” Regarding politeness, Miss Carden stated that adults should never be rude to children; children should never be rude to adults. “I teach children to be decent citizens and live nicely. You can’t survive in the world if you aren’t polite. I want children to learn, and to enjoy learning. Life is a joy, so should be learning,” stated Miss Carden.
— Taken from The Heritage Oak Times. 2005