professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Well Read? Well, Read!

I followed a link from my friend sara Holbrook this morning here:  Daniel Wong is writing about what it means to be educated.  He cites the work of John Taylor Gatto in Weapons of Mass instruction (a phrase I can still recall Joan Bauer speaking about so eloquently post 9-11).  Among the points Gatto 9and Wong) make are these.  Being educated means: 

  • Educated people aren't at a loss about what to do with their time. They don't feel bored when they're alone because they enjoy their own company.
  • Educated people reflect on their life experiences and continually gain new insights, even up until the point of death.
  • Educated people have a healthy self-esteem.
  • Educated people are knowledgeable about different cultures.
  • Educated people discover truth for themselves by analyzing the evidence they're presented with. They don't try to discover truth by memorizing the opinions of others, not even the opinions of so-called "experts".
  • Educated people actively seek variety in their lives.
Now, go back to these statement and substitute the words Well-read people
  • Well-read people are not at a loss about what to do with their time.  They always have a book with them.
  • Well-read people reflect on their life experiences and continually gain new insights.  Books play an important role in this reflective process.  As we read each new book, new pathways open in our thinking.  Just yesterday a friend DMed me on Twitter about a young man in her class who was having to pause and reflect on his preconceived notions after reading Stick by Andrew Smith. These days it is historical fiction and nonfiction that make me pause and reflect on what I once believed was true and right and what I now know was ignorance on my part.
  • Well-read people have a healthy self-esteem.  I think this comes, in part, from meeting people like myself in books.  If I had the chance to read YA back when I was a teen, I think my self-esteem at that point in my life might have been stronger.  Now, I know not all kids have healthy self-esteem, but I do think books can help, especially books that are mirrors.
  • Well-read people discover truths for themselves.  One of my fears is the narrowing of the curriculum by CCSS and other mandates.  When what we "permit" kids to read only X, are we not limiting their ability to find truths for themselves?  Censorship certainly strives to limit access, too.  Free people read freely.
  • Well-read people actively seek variety in their lives.  This is the role we play in the reading lives of kids.  We help them find the next book and the next one and so forth.  We help them escape from reading ruts (never by pushing but by showing them other books they might like), we do reader's advisory, we model variety in our own reading (I call it reading outside of my comfort zone).
There was not much substantive talk about education in any of the debates (yes, the two candidates purport ot love teachers but neither one is actively helping fund education). That makes what we do even more essential.  Remember that the kids we are teaching today might just be the ones voting for our benefits down the road.  It behooves us to make sure they are well-read and well-educated. 
Tags: education, reading
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