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09 September 2014 @ 11:31 am
Dis-coarse  
My colleague and friend Donalyn Miller added a post to her blog this past weekend. You can read it here (and I REALLY urge you to do so): http://bookwhisperer.com/2014/09/07/language-arts-and-crafts/. In this heartfelt piece, she talks about how important it is to create ways for students to respond to their reading, response that does not devolve into something that has little to do with the book and with reading. Here is, IMHO, the essence of Donalyn's post: "Our children must spend more time reading than they spend completing reading-related activities. Generating grades shouldn’t drive teaching decisions. Our children must develop positive reading identities. Worksheets don’t value readers or reading. Children should not become readers in spite of school."

Donalyn admits that she has been guilty of the arts and crafts assignments. I confess I have done this as well. However, like Donalyn and many of our peers, we have grown professionally. This semester even has me giving more CHOICE in the books my students in YA lit read. I have given them choices in terms of accountability for some time. I am still evolving, even after almost 40 years of "practice."

Why am I writing about this during my week of Banned Books Week posts? Simply, I am writing because some of the comments left at Donalyn's blog, emails she received from Facebook, and even Twitter interactions became pointedly personal. She was called all manner of names (think rhymes with witch for one example) and accused of being a snob. All because she reflected on how practice needs to change.

When the level of discourse (or in this case, disCOARSE) sinks, we are, in effect, limiting speech. It is fine to disagree, to present argument, to attempt to persuade. However, personal attacks are none of these. Instead, these types of comments would make a less courageous person back down, even close up shop. Donalyn is brave; she will defend her post. And she has research to help her do so. The comments made to her by some educators (and that breaks my heart) are not courageous nor do they demonstrate knowledge of current research into literacy. I know Donalyn will post again and again. I cherish her blog posts as they always make me pause and consider my own practice. Reflection is something I might brush aside otherwise, so I appreciate that Donalyn asks me to do just that: think about what I am doing in a classroom, even an online classroom for grad students.

So, those who would shout over other voices, who would stoop to name calling and personal attacks, you are censors as well. You would take away the voice of an educator simply because you do not agree. How sad.
 
 
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