professornana (professornana) wrote,

Passing the Torch, Part theThird (and possibly last)

Since I last had the chance to post anything here, I had 3 conversations that underscored what I have been trying to do with this series of posts. One was a lunch with Franki Sibberson, President of NCTE. I also had the chance to visit with the amazing Kylene Beers, a past President of NCTE, a long-time friend and a fellow warrior dealing with cancer. And yesterday, Donalyn Miller and I brined through our phone batteries as we talked about our book (yes, we are still writing it and yes we will finish one day. Lesson: never let two perfectionists work together on a project). What these three different conversations contributed to my thinking about the torch and Ali and our profession is this: It is important to honor the elders of the professions. Sometimes I feel as though some people believe that those of us with tons of experience should bow out and pass the torch. However, we should not forget to honor those who came before.

There are new voices that are adding much to the discussion that centers around reading (and writing, too). It is exciting to see these youthful faces who will carry the torch forward. However, it is also my fear that some of the newer voices do not know their "ancestors." They cannot trace back independent reading to some of those scholars who came before. They do not know Dora Smith or G. Robert Carlsen. They do not belong to ALAN and SIGNAL nor read the journals they publish. They do not acknowledge the work of Donalyn and Kylene and Franki who have laid the groundwork, who have done the research, and who know their ancestors well.

I am happy to pass my torch however small to others. I am by no means done with my work, but it is time to welcome new faces and voices. All I ask is that those new to the field explore the history, learn about their forefathers and foremothers, provide attribution to ideas that have their roots with our elders. I have spoken about this topic frequently over the last couple of years. Here is a link to a presentation I did for the Middle Level Mosaic of NCTE: Perhaps this is a goo place for the new folks to begin. Learn about the past and then take that torch nd light the present, searching for those who will carry the torch into the future as well.
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