professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Cutting Corners

I am growing tired of the phrase "the four corners of the text." I am certain I am not alone in this. As a matter of fact, here is a post on close reading that argues that we need to go beyond the four corners:

This post made me begin thinking about how I view text and reading and response. As much as I like adding the element of the reader and having five corners (and actually creating something that is three dimensional which I think reading is), I think corners are too sharp. I see text in peaks and valleys and more. How could I show that? I cannot. However, as I was pondering about the essential elements of text and reader, I created a simple Venn Diagram of three circles: READER. TEXT. WORLD.

Sometimes reading the page is all about the text; I think that is what Rosenblatt might call efferent reading. I am reading to gain meaning of some sort. There is little of me and my experience and my world in the reading. I do this type of reading from time to time. Generally the text is about some new tech app or operation I am trying to implement. Sometimes my reading is centered in reader (ME). When I read for pleasure, sheer pleasure, aesthetic reading, I think I am the center or focus of the reading. More often than not, these three cannot be separated. I read through the lens of myself, my world, and the text itself.

This inability to separate into distinct components is, in part, my dissatisfaction with CCSS. It is difficult for me to separate craft from text from analysis from any of the other 10 standards for reading. Ditto writing. I do not think I am alone in this either. If we could separate things into distinct categories, strands, skills, etc., then I wonder how they would cease to function as a WHOLE?

As you can tell from this post, this is still something rattling around in my brain. But, I am sure of three things:

1. I cannot and will not limit readers to the four corners of a text. That does not mean I will accept any analysis as legitimate. I still expect my students to analyze by referring to text, self, and world.

2. I refuse to think about reading in separate bands.

3. The fact that we are still having discussions over the meaning and intent of CCSS means that this document is seriously flawed. If we continue pushing this flawed set of standards and all the prescribed curriculum which is being written to ALIGN with it and the tests by which we will determine how smart kids are and how well teachers teach, we are going down that rabbit hole where fantasy characters smoke mysterious things, where queens call for beheading, and where things are curiouser and curiouser.

Corners are meant to confine. Authors never intend readers to be boxed up or imprisoned. Neither should we permit that to occur.
Tags: ccss, corners, reading
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