Where would we be?

It has been a lovely four day break.

A hiatus from the madness.

A tiny little respite from the Common Core, the rubrics, the reading levels, the formative assessments.

Know what I did with all this time off?

I read books.  For fun.

I know, this is a concept which is completely incomprehensible to modern children. The very idea of reading a book for pure pleasure, just because you like the cover, or the topic or the author or the whole idea of the story….well.  Kids in school today just can’t understand or relate to any of these ideas.

See, in the world of the modern classroom, students are given “reading assessments” so that we can find their “instructional level”.  So…..if reading has been a little bit of challenge for you, and you are really interested in reading one of the Rick Riordan books, you get a very clear, very obvious message.  That message is this: ‘You aren’t smart enough to read that book.  Back to ‘Junie B. Jones’ with you!”

So what’s wrong with this model?

Oh, my. Where do I begin?

#1: You just told a child that he/she is a crappy reader.  Exactly how do you think that child is going to change that in the next five years? H’mmm?

#2: You just told the kids that even if they are really excited about a subject, or an author, they shouldn’t try to reach beyond their comfort level.  You’ve just told them that they need to stay firmly in their “comfort” zone, where they are at the “instructional level”.

#3: You just wasted a whole big whopping bunch of time on assessment when you could have been actually reading real live books.   How on earth is that going to help ANYONE?


I picked up a big old whopping biography of Abraham Lincoln.  Why?  Well, I saw the movie, and I had a lot of questions.  If I used the “just right books” training that is used with kids, I would have come to the conclusion that this book was way too hard for me.  When I opened it up and read a random page, I was confused by the content and the language.  The length of the book was daunting.  I should have put it down.

But I didn’t.

I want to know about Mr. Lincoln, so I want to read this book.

I’m now a50 pages into the story, and I am riveted.  Yes, there are parts that are a challenge. Yes, there are moments when I come to text that I don’t understand.

But you know what?

I feel smart as I read this book.  I feel smart, and smug and happy with myself.  And most of all, I am learning a boat load of information about our 16th President and what motivated him to act the way that he did.

So as I enjoy the last few hours of my Thanksgiving break, as I ready myself to head back out into the fray, I vow to keep in mind the ways that Mr. Lincoln’s intellectual prowess was matched by his intellectual curiosity. I will remind myself that if he had lived in the days of “ongoing formative assessment”, he might have been told at the age of ten that he was not an “age level” reader. He might very well have been told to read less challenging text.

And he might not have taught himself the law, and he might not have set himself up as a surveyor and a lawyer and he might not have dared to run for public office, and he might never have become the sixteenth President of the United States.

And where would we all be now?  H’mm? Where would we all be now?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Read on, sister!


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