My friend Mary Ann Bell sent me the link to this quote about education. With all of the emphasis on college and career readiness that has been generated rom CCSS and its perpetrators and conspirators, I do think we sometimes lose sight of what is essential in our profession. I have become more and more conscious about using the term "training" when it comes to what I do. I do not train people who wish to become school librarians. I educate them. I share tools and techniques and strategies and theories with them. We discuss books and trends and issues. And I absolutely treasure the messages I receive from time to time from a student who has discovered somethign new because of being in class. This past week it was about a new app one of my students had used for an assignment (while the assignment is the same for all students, how they accomplish it is left to the individual student). The student had completed the assignment but could not successfull upload the work she had done with the app. So, she sent me an email because she was so excited about what she had discovered and wanted me to see it. Here is someone who so gets the purpose of learning and knows the essential elements of success and enthusiasm as they relate to learning.
But more to the point is the final sentence that includes this wonderful phrase: the measure of a civilization is its compassion." And here, of course, is where the books enter into the discussion. How can we ensure our kids become compassionate? I think one way is through the literature we share. Look at the CHOOSE KIND campaign (http://choosekind.tumblr.com/) and see how reading RJ Palacio's book can affect how we treat one another. This is only one example of how books can affect us as readers. After reading Leslea Newman's incredible October Mourning, I cannot pass a pasture fence without reflecting on that first poem from the book that is about the life and death of Matthew Shepard. The fence is one of the "players" in this novel in poems. I look at fences differently as a result of reading the book. My friend Bob, when he walked into a spider web once remarked, "Maybe it is the work of one of Charlotte's descendants." I would have been frantically peeling away the web, but now I see webs differently, too.
The changes migtht be subtle and small. They can also be grand and dramatic. But the changes are there, and they will be there long after the close reading of some dry text has been long forgotten.