Doug's story about the reading "contest" at his kids' school struck a
responsive note for me. My kids, too, have been subject to all sorts of
reading incentives -- and (we may pay for this later) we've staunchly
ignored them all. The latest, rather innocuous, attempt has been by my
daughter's first grade teacher, who sends home a sheet entitled, "Hey,
look! Guess who read another book?" The children (or parents) are supposed
to list all the books they've read. I make a point of losing those
sheets; we do a lot of reading around our house and I don't want
attention drawn to it in that way. Not to mention that lots of our
reading doesn't involve books, per se -- we read the sports page and the
comics and a few poems here and there and a story one of the kids has
written or a letter from or to somebody -- and yes, Michael, even
e-mail. Lists of books don't get at any of that reading.
But there's another issue here, one that's even more troubling for me
than what we are or aren't reading. I'm a literate person who values
education, and my kids are clearly growing up in the socioeconomic
setting that fosters literacy . . . and yet _I_, of all people, resist
the schools' efforts to reach out to us at home. There are a lot of
other silly assignments that I've more or less wilfully ignored. In my
own mind, I imagine that I have sound pedagogical reasons for doing so --
but I wonder, is this decision any different than another parent's
deciding that it's more important for their child to participate in
sports, or do work around the house, or just have time to play because
school doesn't matter anyway?
Granted, we do see to it that our kids do most of the work assigned to
them, and I'm in their classrooms as much as I can be, and we do lots
that supports school culture. But still, after I reading Russ' statement
that we need to change what goes on at home because schools can't
shoulder the whole load, I've been trying to imagine what kind of
outreach could be done that _wouldn't_ feel like a burden to me.
Honestly, I can't imagine anything.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
email: [log in to unmask]