professornana (professornana) wrote,

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D is for Discouragement

I really had something else planned for the post today. But yesterday, College Girl and BH and I spent several hours running errands. At one point, CG asked me this question, "Nana, if you had a student who REALLY wanted to become a writer and REALLY had some talent, wouldn't you do everything you could to help her?" Of course, I agreed that I would and that I hoped all teachers would do the same. Light bulb moment. Let me explain.

Nat Senior Photos 092

Most of you have been subjected to my praise of CG and her musical ability and her seemingly endless practice of scales and competition pieces. She went to college on a music scholarship and was the only freshman to make the orchestra. And then one afternoon this spring (at the end of her freshman year) as she and I were shopping for stuff at the local Target, she turned to me and told me she had exciting news: she was switching from music to nursing. You can imagine my reaction. In short, the kid burned out. She felt that she was being held back, told NOT to try more difficult pieces or talk to other musicians seeking advice. CG believed that there was no real encouragement for her any longer.

What does that have to do with my usual postings about education and ed policy? It would have been simple to call this posting E is for Encouragement. But I wanted to focus for a moment on how easy it is to DISCOURAGE someone who is eager, someone who wants to explore new worlds, new ideas. This is quite different, BTW, from the incessant reiteration in CCSS to push (shove) kids into more and more complex and rigorous texts. Here is a kid who wants to peer around the corner (and maybe duck back, who knows?) not a teacher being forced to follow lock step someone's interpretatioon of CCSS (though CCSS is to blame for the overemphasis on nonfiction, leveling, and more complex texts). Where is room for that in this new (soon to be scripted) curriculum of CCSS?

Kylene Beers had a wonderful post yesterday about lexiles ( I think we are on the same page (pun intended) here. CG has always been able to read above and below and beyond her lexile or ATOS because she has a terrific library here at home. She has spent the summer revisiting from of her old favorites including Harry Potter and Eragon. And she has discovered new books that resonate with her, too (Adaptation, The Diviners to name just 2). But what about those kids who do not have the well stocked library at home or even parents who can take time from their work schedules to drive them to the library? Those are the kids I worry about.

We need to ENCOURAGE and not DISCOURAGE. I am willing to bet that everyone reading this post can readily recall a time when someone threw cold water on an idea, when they were discouraged from taking that bold new step, or even when their own fears of failing prevented a move forward. As for CG, she will become the best darned nurse one can become. She has our encouragement to step forward, turn a corner, follow a new path.
Tags: ccss, discouragement, encouragement, teaching
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