professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Burning questions

Someone posted a question in response to a tweet from a conference presentation at the Texas Council Of Teachers of English Language Arts (TCTELA) yesterday. The tweet stated that we need to be teaching newer books to kids, books that connect to their reality. The reply to this tweet questioned (snarkiky), so are old books then without value? Part of me just wants to say YES and move forward with the conversation about using authentic texts that speak to contemporary readers. After all, Paul Janeczko, noted poet and anthologist, had spoken at lunch about reading Silas Marner and feeling disconnected. Even English teachers were murmuring their assent. But it is not that simple, is it?

I am not suggesting we remove classic texts. I am, however, suggesting that we:

1. Stop using texts written for adults with younger and younger readers. Huck Finn in intermediate school? To Kill a Mockingbird in middle school? The list of crimes (yes, I said crimes) goes on as some keep pushing adult texts down into lower grades with rationales of rigor, complexity,many other nonsense.

2. Instead, let's focus on developmental appropriateness. Do the kids possess the intellectual, social, cultural, and moral development that will allow them ACCESS to the text and its meanings?

3. Reflect on why we are using a common text. Do we need to have ALL kids read the same text all year long?

4. When do we offer readers CHOICE?

5. What makes a text "worthy" of study?

I will come back in future posts and talk more about texts and text selection. But for now, discuss amongst yourselves.
Tags: classic, contemporary
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