Saturday, February 01, 2020

The three gifts that I would like to give to my young friends are the gifts of curiosity, wonder, and self acceptance.   I want them to turn to reading when they explore their world. I want them to turn to reading to ferret out the worlds wisdom.  I want them to turn to reading when they doubt themselves find that others have had the same struggles. zero waste school with a focus on nature education. I want my young friends to love every moment of the exploration. If they do these things they will have the observational and critical skills to live well and solve problems in the real world.  Virtual worlds are fine but our attention to them and has left us fraught. It is, in part, this recognition that drives us as we move to be a

NOW I worry that we force children to abandon the very things that make them children. We force their teachers to abandon that wonder of reflective time with children for a more focused, forced and formulaic approach to learning. Some of this push has been helpful for teachers to learn better methods of teaching and questioning, but the constant collection of data and the push to have all children achieve at the same level (determined by the chamber of commerce and its educational report card) is destructive.

I am writing this because the mother of a 1st grader (the kind of parent you love to have--one that is so engaged and supportive, well educated and wanting the very best for her child) was utterly distraught as she read a note about how her student was falling behind...

I encounter this child daily in the library and I want that parent to stop worrying. I want his teacher to stop worrying. I want them all to be able to enjoy learning together. The book "How to Raise a Reader"points out just how many of the things we have been told about reading are simply not true.  Reading early does not necessarily indicate much about a child's reading success.  So relax.  If your kindergartner isn't reading stop worrying.  We used to teach real reading in 1st grade, but now we push it out to ever younger populations.

I was the kind of child who would have engendered such a note, but when I was in 1st grade parents didn't get such notes.  As a young reader I saw no point to read the books I was being handed at school.  They were not nearly as engaging as what I was hearing at home in the evenings.  As a family we read books like "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" every night before bed . The basal readers of my childhood were nothing short of hideous! I lived in a rural part of Iowa, and there was no library in our town so the only books available for me to read were those from school like the Dick and Jane series of readers.

I hated reading until we moved to California and I went on bi-weekly field trips to the public library. My lovely new school did not yet have a library, so believe it or not we were swept away to the public library where I found a very old copy of "A Child's History of England" It was the first book I chose and read on my own. I loved it!  How could a non-reader go to a fluent one in such a short amount of time?  It is part of what makes learning so appealing to someone like me.  It is not linear!  Things that have been planted and are lying dormant can suddenly spring to life and surprise everyone, even the young reader.

I had the time and space and opportunity to find my place in education, to become a reader to not feel the sting of judgment at the age of 9!  What we do to children when we allow corporations to sell us everything we need from programs to workbooks to formulas for education is utterly antithetical to the transmission of knowledge. This kind of "education" may make some people wealthy, but it devalues teachers who watch as thousands of dollars go to expensive subscriptions for computer programs.

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