Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Krashen: "I read it because it's beautiful"

This was published in IRA Inspire, sent out on the internet from the International Reading Association. It is very ironic that an IRA publication defends literature in this way, when the IRA has enthusiastically supported the standards movement and the LEARN act, which promise to wipe out this kind of literature teaching in favor of the approach that the "observer" in this classroom represents.

I Read It Because It’s Beautiful

by Karen Morrow Durica

Somehow a life without poetry seems…




Not much.

So each day in my classroom I read…



Free verse—

And such.

An observer sat in my room one day…

Noted poem’s title

Evaluated delivery

Recorded “lesson” sequence—

Said dryly: “It seems

There’s no connection curricular-wise…

No anticipatory set

No vocabulary drill

No comprehension query—

Do they know what it means?”

I could have contrived a defense or two, but…

Spirits flowed with peaceful joy

Honesty prevailed

Simple truth explained—

“I read it because it’s beautiful,” I said.

She didn’t quite frown but recalled all the same, “We’ve…

Standards to meet

Timelines to keep

Pages to cover—

Important content to be read.”

I looked from her to my students’ gaze; they…

Had relished the words

Danced with the rhythm

Mused with the meaning—

Were richer in spirit than when we began.

I read it because it was beautiful. And beauty is…

Never superfluous

Never irrelevant

Always needed—

Always in my “lesson” plan.

Krashen: Students are different...or are they?

This was also published in IRA Inspire. The International Reading Association supports rigid and rigorous language arts standards that insist that all students follow the same path and take the same tests at the same time. It does not recognize individual variation in rate of literacy development, interests, or that "students are different" in any way.

From Early Struggles to Lifetime Success

Roy (not his real name) had trouble with reading, right from the

"I was at the bottom in reading skills and spelling skills. I was a very, very slow reader and couldn’t read out loud or silently. It began in first grade and continued in second grade, third grade, and on and on and on…."

He repeated first grade, spent years with tutors, but even now, as an adult, he has trouble with spelling and oral reading. But Roy is also a leading medical researcher, with a doctorate and a string of publications and awards.

"My interest in chemistry started with my interest in airplanes in grade school. That quickly converted to propellant systems in seventh and eighth grades. I set up a lab in my basement and did experiments. That early experience was useful, building your own confidence."

With a passion for science and a curiosity to learn, and with the support of family and teachers along the way, he harnessed multiple intelligences and followed an unusual path to literacy.

Which goes to show: Students are different, and they learn in different ways. Once teachers find those ways, great things are possible!