professornana (professornana) wrote,

Sign of the Times

Okay, I am back to beating that horse again. It is not dead, just nearly dead (strains of Monty Python's "I'm not dead yet" are running through my head). So, perhaps another attempt at pointing out the problems associated with commodification is in order.

There are wonderful resources out there for educators. However, some folks take the basic ideas and attempt to put them into a rigid structure, make them a program or product. I have seen instances of this on Facebook over the past week. Let's take this basic idea and make it so rigid that it has its own system of signals and signs and a rote manner of applying the concepts. I think commodifying ideas leads straight to what Kelly Gallagher writes about in Readicide. The concepts and ideas move from helpful to harmful.

I have seen commodification with reading aloud to the point where what used to be a read aloud is now a lesson, reading interrupted to ask questions along the way. I have seen commodification of workshop to the point that it has become another script with agendas and tally sheets, etc. Most recently, I have seen checklists that evaluate whether or not students are engaged. Trouble is, most of the engagement takes place for the person doing the checking. Feet on floor and eyes front is NOT engagement. As someone at a workshop noted last week: that is compliance.

Last week, during a Town Hall meeting, all someone could talk about was using rubrics for every little thing. Rubrics are good things. I use rubrics for some assignments. But even rubrics can become rigid and product-like.

As educators we need to ask ourselves: what is our ultimate goal? I want my grad students who will go on to careers in school libraries to know some of the basics (genres, criteria for evaluating good books, some key works). But I want them to know more about concepts and ideas that will direct them as they create and curate their libraries as they assist kids in finding those just right books. I want them to assess their own reading habits and preferences. I want them to examine books on their own and make informed decisions.

I could give them checklists. I could send out monthly lists of books they should be reading. I could do many things. I am hoping, though, that they take what they learned in class and apply it, that they practice what lifelong readers continue to do: read, share, talk, plan, read some more. If we do nothing but commodify, what does that say about literacy? To me, it says literacy is a product, a package, and not a lifelong process of becoming.
Tags: commodification
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.