professornana (professornana) wrote,

The Legacy of the Past

As I sit in my home office today, a tribute to 9/11 is being broadcast on MSNBC. Fifteen years is a lifetime for most of the students in our classrooms right now. Even Nurse Girl does not recall much of that tragedy since she was 8 at the time. Those of us who watched the events unfold, who sat transfixed and horrified at the news coverage, remember all too well.

The same is true in education sometimes. There is research from decades ago that is somehow forgotten. It is not so much that the research has been proven to be wrong or even that it is dated. It is just that in our efforts to seek new and next practices, we sometimes forget that the best practices still might be best.

I have been working on a book chapter this week about some of those best practices: reading aloud, access to books, time to read, etc. Donalyn Miller and I are also writing about these pedagogical strategies for our forthcoming book for Heinemann. As I dive down into the studies that examined these elements of supporting lifelong readers, I am reminded that there is a strong interrelatedness among what appear to be disparate elements.

Yesterday I was reviewing the research of Carlsen and Sherrill in VOICES OF READERS: HOW WE COME TO LOVE BOOKS. Published in 1988 (almost 30 years ago), this book points to the commonalities shared by lifelong readers. Reading aloud, reading role models, time to read--do any of these sound familiar? And we can go back further than 1988.

I hear some say that "old" research is no longer considered relevant. That is a shame. Discarding something because it is old seems shortsighted (especially now that I am 63). Instead we need to build on the research of the past as we conduct action research in our classrooms. I build on the Carlsen and Sherrill research every semester in my YA classes. Thirty years after the original publication, students tell me that role models, reading aloud, access to books, and time to read are still essential components of their reading journey.

Let us honor the past by bringing it into our present classrooms.
Tags: research
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