professornana (professornana) wrote,

Intervention or Interference?

It seems as though many of the pieces I am reading about CCSS and reading have to do with intervention. Here is yet another case of what I am calling the "Princess Bride Syndrome" (I do not think that word means what you think it means). Here is a definition of intervention:

To come, appear, or lie between two things; To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development; To interfere, usually through force or threat of force.

When it comes to reading, intervention often appears to me to be more about interference or even insertion between text and reader. I have been thinking about this for a while, this sudden need for the teacher to step between reader and text. Even those who are talking about independent reading (see here for instance, talk about "targeted intervention" in INDEPENDENT reading. Go back and read that again, please: intervention in independent reading. Does that not strike you as oxymoronic? And perhaps even counter-productive? And definitely unnecessary?

There are further dichotomies out there. In this same article, guided reading is about fluency and comprehension and independent reading is about stamina and motivation. Really? It seems to me that when we read we are practicing all skills. Pleasure reading is not just about motivating me to read more or about building my stamina for reading. Fluency, prosody, vocabulary, motivation, comprehension are all inextricably entwined in reading. To separate them is to provide a false dichotomy. It tells kids that certain kinds of reading are more valued than others. We see this when kids self-report about reading. Some kids will tell you they are not readers when, in effect, they are. What they are telling us in many cases is that they are not doing the reading valued at school. They read online or they read comics or they read gaming tips. Now, those of you who read this blog already value reading however it presents itself. You recognize and value reading (and writing, too, which suffers from a similar dichotomy). The kids in your classes know that ALL their reading is valued.

That is because you SEE. Here is a wonderful reflection by Katherine Sokolowski:

I encourage all of us to make an effort to SEE and not to interfere. When we stand between reader and text, I suspect we are killing motivation and stamina instead of improving either. When we intervene and insert ourselves, we can hinder instead of help. I am all for guidance when a kid appears stuck. But sometimes guidance means stepping back, stepping away, and waiting. I applaud teacher-learners, those of you who are open to learning new things. Even at 60, I am stunned at what more there is to know and discover about literacy. I am watching as a colleague leads some students to literacies through gaming, as another watches students interact with graphic novels, and another who pairs high school kids with younger students for book sharing. This is not intervention. This is teaching.
Tags: books, intervention, reading

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