What does this have to do with education? having just spent a week with dozens of incredible teachers and librarians and coaches, I have seen once again that there is no ONE way. Karin Perry and I modeled all manner of book talks. The members of the academy presented their book talks at the end of the week. Karin and I made notes of book after book we now HAD to read following the book talk. We were not the only ones. We did spine poems and black out poetry and remixes. Again, we were struck by the variety of pieces completed by the educators.
Recently, the reading wars seem to have re-erupted (if indeed they ever disappeared). The New York Times ran an op-ed piece which excoriated independent reading. The same old reformer/deformers are calling for more rigor, more complexity, more focus on a narrower range of texts. In short, they are supporting censorship. Denying kids CHOICE, insisting kids read books based on their magic "levels" and "lexiles" (and I love that autocorrect wants to change lexile to exile) limits their freedom to read. One of the discussions we had this week focused on what to do when a teacher insists all kids read books with a certain number of pages and at a certain level or lexile. How can we handle that situation professionally?
Telling kids to read within a narrow range takes me right back to the one right way to fold a sheet. There is a wonderful old story that goes around from time to time about a family which generation after generation cuts the end off a roast before cooking it. We have always done it that way was the rationale until one day someone tracks back the custom which came about because the original cook had a roast too big and a pan too small. And so it goes. "We have always done things this way" is not just pointless in education, it is downright harmful.