The biggest loss is the loss of lifelong readers. When I meet folks in places outside of academia and they ask what I do, most of the time they question why I would spend time teaching about literature for children and young adults. They offer several reasons, most of them highly autobiographical. This works to my advantage when I am on a plane and wish to dive into my book because basically they leave me aloone. However, when I run into a fellow reader, I know that the conversation is quickly heading to titles and authors and shared experiences. Given the statistic that 75% of all high school graduates indicate they will never read another book for pelasure, though, the likelihood of running into a fellow bibliophile is slim unless the plane is heading to ALAN.
Why am I concerned about the loss of lifeling readers? It is not simply because I love engaging in book talk with others. it is mostly because I know that this generation and the ones to come are the ones who will become future leaders. I worry that, if they do not like to read, they will not seek out information on their own. Instead, they will rely on what others tell them. Take for instance, the spate of misinformation spouted by politicians about abortion during the election cycle. We had folks asserting that rape does not end in pregnancy. Where did that tidbit come from, I wonder? I suspect it was not from a book. As a Nana, I still hear about "facts" that College Girl has obtained from some of her friends. I generally encourage her to look up said facts (and sometimes even go to snopes.com to show her the facts). If "READERS ARE LEADERS," THEN i HOPE THAT "leaders are readers," as well.
Second to this loss is the loss of teacher autonomy. CCSS and other mandates have resulted in programs written by folks well outside of the day to day classroom. Here is one of the clues: any legislation that begins with the phrase, "all children will" and then gives some sort of deadline for a skill. Anyone who has children and better who works with kids knows that there is no magic transformation or a hidden switch that allows ALL children to acquire a skill or complete a task at a certain age, time, location, etc. MANY kids will, SOME kids might. But teachers are told that one such and such a day, their class will address said skill and kids will master it and then everyone moves on. Talk about leaving kids behind. And because teachers have been forced to relinquish their autonomy, there is sometimes little they can do.
There are more losses as the fine print (and in the case of CCSS, even its creators keep referring to the footnotes, ironically) is plentiful. But what about the UNprogram? Simply: NO FINE PRINT and NO HIDDEN COSTS. Refer to past posts about the UNprogram.
Tomorrow is Christmas, and I hope to schedule a post so that I can spend the day with family. As the year winds down, I wonder what topics should be a part of this blog down the road. If you have any thoughts about this, drop me a note or leave a comment.