Spelling is the Problem
Putting letters together into words is one of the most basic skills required for literacy. If this basic skill is so hard for so many people to grasp, then, Feynman argues, there is a problem with the way words are spelled.
Now let me get to a lower level still in this question. And that is, all the time you hear the question, "why can't Johnny read?" And the answer is, because of the spelling. The Phoenicians, 2000, more, 3000, 4000 years ago, somewhere around there, were able to figure out from their language a scheme of describing the sounds with symbols. It was very simple. Each sound had a corresponding symbol, and each symbol, a corresponding sound. So that when you could see what the symbols' sounds were, you could see what the words were supposed to sound like. It's a marvelous invention. And in the period of time things have happened, and things have gotten out of whack in the English language. Why can't we change the spelling? Who should do it if not the professors of English? If the professors of English will complain to me that the students who come to the universities, after all those years of study, still cannot spell "friend," I say to them that something's the matter with the way you spell friend.