Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Usual Education Stories

The Atlantic has an essay by a reporter here discussing the usual education articles that come out in August, as everyone gears up for the beginning of school in a few weeks.  The kinds of stories the article mentions are the ones we see often:  new, excited teachers, innovative principal etc.  I made a modest suggestion for a story I never see:

As a high school English teacher for 37 years, I have a suggestion for a story: Interview the highest-achieving high school students--the ones who are top scorers on assessment tests. I think you'll find what I found during my years teaching, that high-achieving students at some point, early on in their school career, fell in love with reading and learning.

My students who could understand nuance and tone in their reading, who could keep complicated plots straight, and who could understand themes and complicated characters were never the students who spent more time on test prep. Actually, they hated when I tried to do test prep. with them, as they found it tedious, simplistic, and boring.

It was their habit of avid reading that enabled them to do so well on any kind of assessment, as well the ability to shine in all of their subjects.

Unfortunately, the emphasis on test prep. is driving out any chance of kids developing a love of reading. Dragging kids through endless reading exercises is one of the most efficient ways of ensuring they will never acquire sophisticated reading skills.

That's a story for you.

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