professornana (professornana) wrote,

the fallacy of "fixing"

As I read through the overnight tweets and status updates, I followed a link to an article that talked about "fixing" the schools. Richard Rothstein offers us this ( in response to the Manifesto from Klein, Rhee, and the usual suspects. Another link took me to Paul Hankins' latest posting on Still another link offered words from Maja Wilson's take on scripted curriculum.

What did all of these have in common? Here is my take away with apologies to the authors who might never have intended this (but is that not the nature of REAL response?). What I see more and more of these days is what I jokingly call my 'ONE SIZE FITS ALL" solution to "fix" all of the problems out there. And this philosophy extends to those who would ban and censor books (in case you were already wondering when I might make a point).

As a woman of some size (euphemism for fat), I know the fallacy of ONE SIZE FITS ALL. One size fits some, mostly those who are average sized. OSFA does not fit the resident of the back bedroom or me or my friend from NY who is petite or my high school friend Connie was who over 6' 2" in 9th grade. It is not just a case of outliers. This idea of the average is dangerous. Teach to the middle we were told once upon a time. That is OSFA thinking. Common Core Standards is OSFA thinking. Exemplar texts, ditto.

And censorship, I think, is also OSFA thinking. I hear about a book: right now the buzz is all about the hilarious new book from Lane Smith, IT'S A BOOK, and his use of the word jackass. Some folks have their panties in a twist over the use of this word the same way they did when Susan Patron dared refer to a dog's scrotum in her Newbery winning, THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY. Here is where the OSFA thinking comes in. What those who challenge this book see is one word: jackass. What I see is the chance to use a piece of metafiction with kids. I also see word play and humor and the importance of books and libraries and reading. I see illustrative media and techniques. I see an author/illustrator with a definite style. Censors see a dirty word only.

Recent censorship instances fit in here as well. Dr. Scoggins in Missouri sees soft porn in SPEAK; other readers see a book that can be a lifeline (and for my kids a life lesson as well). He sees violence in SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. I see a master at work, someone who is changing the face of literature with his books. He sees a title, TWENTY BOY SUMMER, and draws a conclusion. I read the book and see a novel that plumbs the depth of grief and loss and love.

I had the honor to serve on the Printz Committee for 2010. GOING BOVINE was our selection as the winner of this prestigious award. What I took away from my repeated readings of this novel was different from the other members of the committee. Yet we all agreed that it was the most distinguished contribution to literature for young adults. But there is more to this story of GOING BOVINE. I have tried for the past year to persuade the resident of the back bedroom to read the book. She even has an autographed copy. What with band and all of her other commitments, she had not even picked up the book. Then, I noticed the other day that she finally succumbed and is nearing the end. I cannot wait to talk about this book with her. I am betting she has a different take away than I do. I hope so. But the point I was going to make here is that she picked up the book not because of all my successful nagging but because one of her friends loves the book. I could tell her till the cows come home (pun intended) all about GOING BOVINE. But it is the recommendation of a friend that matters more.

OK, Teri, bring this thing to a conclusion. One Size Fits All is a fallacy perpetuated by the garment industry. Common Standards is a fallacy perpetuated by those OUTSIDE the classroom (look to see how many teachers helped the governors craft this). Required reading lists are fallacies perpetuated by someone who has not read contemporary YA literature. And censorship is one of the biggest OSFA fallacies out there. Censors think that if they take away all the objectionable books that the ones left (and I wonder which those will be since many of the classics have the same issues censors find fault with in contemporary books) will meet the needs of all kids.

Tags: education reform, speakloudly
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