Reading Aloud -- The Incentive that Works
In the Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease wrote about the 1983 Commission on Reading and the subsequent report Becoming a Nation of Readers.
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom.Reading is still the most important daily activity for most American adults -- reading an email from their supervisor, reading a manual for installing an appliance, or reading the want ads looking for a job. During leisure time people read tweets, Facebook posts, blog entries, emails from friends and relatives, newspapers and magazines, and even books...including ebooks or tree books (traditional paper and ink books).
In their wording—“ the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, book reports, and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better tool than anything else in the home or classroom— and it’s so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it.
Has the focus on reading (through standardized tests) improved the reading of Americans? Most Americans are functionally literate...and can read enough to get through their days...some with great facility.
But deeper reading requires an incentive. That incentive is reading aloud.
On the whole, children whose parents read to them learn to read earlier, better and faster than children whose parents don't read to them. Parents who read a lot have children who read a lot. It's that simple.
The End-All: Testing
As adults we read for a purpose...either for work, for interest or for pleasure. Children need a purpose for reading as well. Is testing the only reason we teach reading? Sometimes it seems that way.
While politicians, school boards, principals, and teachers are focused on data and testing, students are focused on what they have always been focused on -- learning about the world and developing relationships with the people around them.
We can claim that our insane obsession with testing is an appropriate way to measure learning and hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, but that doesn't make it true.
We understand that a healthy diet is necessary for our children's growth and long life, but we don't seem to understand that children's minds need a healthy diet, too.
Charter School Under Construction
Corporate charters drain funds from public schools and have about the same success rate. The difference is that public money is going into the pockets of corporate shareholders and CEOs. Meanwhile public schools are left with fewer resources, more expensive to educate students, and in some cases, less space in their building.
How much does it cost you at Walmart?
We subsidize the richest family in America -- the Waltons -- through our taxes. Our money goes to their workers, who make such low salaries they qualify for public assistance, and to the wealthy owners through tax breaks. Still think you're saving money at Walmart?
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.
Stop the Testing Insanity!