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12 October 2015 @ 09:43 am
Threading the Needle  
Yesterday's reading at the gospel was the story of the rich man who asked Jesus how to gain eternal salvation. I loved the words of the sermon from our deacon who described this as a man asking for a "plan" or "program" that would guarantee his entrance into heaven. He wanted a step by step way to ensure his salvation. Deacon Phyllis said it was not that neat and simple. The quote from the reading was, "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

I am not here this morning, of course, to discuss scripture. However, that phrase and the sermon stuck with me and started some internal processing as it often does. And, as it often does, it ended up making me think of books and reading. And then all this became a little cloudier (I love when things get cloudy because it makes me think even more deeply) when a friend asked a group of us for some suggestions for books for a 13 year old who was not an avid reader and who was also struggling with some other issues. The book recommendations were all preceded by questions asking for more info on the reader. And then the suggestions came pouring in. Some recommended romance, some humor. I chimed in with a few GN recommendations (I have GN on the brain right now since Karin Perry and I are doing a session on GNs from other countries that focus on war for USBBY this week).

Here is the pedagogy, folks. We all wanted more information to make better recommendations. We all had a somewhat different take on the books we suggested. AND we all built on what the others had said before we chimed in. We "listened," we shared, we supported one another. But most of all we built our answers on the knowledge we had. Not ONE book, but many to allow for choice and because we did not know this reader personally. We all talked about why THESE books based on knowledge as well.

So, let's circle back to the readings and the camel and the rich man, shall we?

The man wanted a plan, a program. AR, Read 180, CCSS, and other programmed approaches to teaching and learning ignore the fact that we are working with kids, with individuals who often have unique needs and interests. Instead, they restrict what we can offer kids or they program how we approach a topic, subject, task. They commodify pedagogy until it is a program (see how some have commodified close reading, etc.).

There is no magic list, no perfect curriculum, no magic bullet, no panacea, etc. Instead, it takes a teacher who listens, who supports and is supported, who confers, who consults, who builds on the knowledge he or she has. It takes a teacher who first and foremost CARES. I will take that over a plan or program any day.
 
 
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