A couple of small things intersected in a timely fashion in my Twitter feeds yesterday.1
The first was this piece in the Washington Post about a district administrator in Florida who has banned all homework in elementary school – save for reading twenty minutes a night:
Elementary school students in one Florida school district are going to find a welcome new — but controversial — policy when they return to school for the 2017-2018 school year next month: no traditional homework.
They are being asked to do one thing to help them academically: Read for 20 minutes a night.
Heidi Maier, the new superintendent of the 42,000-student Marion County public school district in Florida, said in an interview that she made the decision based on solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students.
What a wonderful reminder of the power of reading AND the importance of taking a break from school. And, for that matter, the importance of actually incorporating data into teaching and learning. And, heck, while we’re at it – the significant power in NOT doing something. Not doing the wrong thing is a wonderful way to get better. It gives you room to try something else.
It kills me when a teacher explains that something they're reading isn't "education related." Connections abound. Read deeply. #edsurgechat
— Bud Hunt (@budtheteacher) July 19, 2017
If teachers don’t understand the the value in reading is less about WHAT gets read than the fact that READING BECOMES A HABIT for a learner, then there’s work for us to do.
Reading3 is essential to lifelong learning. It’s worth doing and it’s worth doing promisciuously, at least some times. It’s also more important that most of what’s ever been foisted on children as “further practice” or “homework.”
While you’re reading big and broad this summer, you might want to pick up a copy of Daniel Pennac’s Better than Life, a delightful meditation on what it means to read and be a reader. Be sure to pay special attention to his Reader’s Bill of Rights, and consider how you’ll make the shift towards allowing those rights to be present in the reading lives of your students.
In the meantime, as you’re out and about this summer, please grab a text, be it an old favorite novel, or a trashy magazine, or a vampire romance, or a graphic novel, or the newest mystery, or a scholarly chapter, or back issues of your favorite newspaper, and please do me this:
Just read, dammit. And help others do the same.
- I’m learning again to watch for these, the moments when my writer sense tingles. [↩]
- The fact that EdSurge itself is an infomercial is irrelevant to this particular post, but probably worth talking about at some future point. If EdSurge is your go to source for information on Ed Tech/edtech/edutech, you’re definitely doing it wrong. [↩]
- In multiple modes, yes. Audiobooks count. [↩]