I am upset that the national discussion—including this column—does not address the issue of how to develop a love of learning in children.
There are push and pull methods of motivating people. The Common Core is all push. Students had better learn this material and teachers had better teach this material because graduation and jobs are dependent upon it. If push methods worked, fine, but there is no evidence that they do.
A pull method would be to engage a student’s interest and passion. Talk to a child about his hobby or an activity he loves. You’ll be amazed at the level of detail he knows, and the depth of his understanding. His love of that activity pulls him into knowledge.
In my 37 years of teaching high school English, it became clear to me that my advanced readers—the students with a sophisticated understanding of all we read—were the kids who somewhere along the line fell in love with books. They were avid readers, and, through their years of avid reading, had acquired a sense of tone and plot and character development and theme that allowed them to read anything—fiction or nonfiction—with a completely different level of understanding than their peers. Their love of reading pulled them into this competence.