It seems to me we should be teaching all of these tools. It makes no sense to give people just one. Some tools work better in some situations, and some tools work better for some people.
Phonetic reading is very useful when learning many foriegn langues.
Contextual reading is always useful for learning new vocabulary and knowing when to look up a new word or skip and back-fill meaning as you get more context.
Sight reading seems like it should be the goal, so why not also teach it directly alongside those first two techniques for when the going gets tough?
If you don’t have phonics down well, you cannot actually learn new words from context. If you cannot “sound out” the unknown word in your head, then no amount of context is going to allow you to actually learn the new word.
Context is a great tool for understanding what a new word means. It is useless for telling you what a new word actually says.
It seemed that exclusively at TC in NYC phonics were roundly rejected, and whole reading was the only acceptable approach for future teachers to learn about (vs. friends who attended Hunter/CUNY, and NYU grad schools for education where this exclusivity wasn't taught). I'd love to know that they've stopped this harmful practice at Columbia TC considering how prestigious it is.