Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Readicide Book Study: Chapter One. If there's an elephant in the room and everyone talks about it, is it still an elephant?

I'm hopping along with a fabulous group of fifth grade teachers doing a collaborative study of Readicide. It's fairly new and just getting traction (when my copy came in, my high schooler said, "Oh, my English teacher's reading that.") , so it seemed like a great book for bouncing around some ideas. At first, I thought that the author would really just be preaching to the choir, but then I thought about it, and I do know some teachers that would totally disagree with the book's basic premise.

I'm lucky. I work in a district that is very anti-drill and kill. We don't do AR because it promotes one-dimensional comprehension. We have bookrooms loaded with novels but don't have textbooks.I own enough book club sets that if my husband ever finds out how many (and how much I've spent over the years), well ....

Our math department's approach is similar.

Ours is an odd county. A four-lane highway (U.S. 74) run pretty close down the middle.  On the west side of it, where I live, is affluent suburbia. On the east side of it, where I teach, is still country, with large poultry farms, small family farms, and trailer parks populated, mainly, with new immigrants, along with pockets of new, expensive neighborhoods. While my school serves one of those pockets and some surrounding farmland, the schools on either side of us are Title I.

All that to say, our district serves a very diverse population. Our subgroups have subgroups, and even with that, our test scores are among the best in the state.

So why pick up a copy of Readicide?

One, I work in a building where we are allowed the freedom to be who we are and to teach like it. Believe it or not, there are teachers who choose to make their classrooms all about the test scores. What the (Insert your own expletive.)? 

Second, what the author describes as happening in low-income schools is absolutely true. I spent my young years teaching in inner-city schools (Seriously. One showed up in an episode of History Channel's Gangland series.) and this group of children, who live and breathe talk and wordplay, detest reading. If you saw the lesson plans handed down from that county's district people, you'd know why. Isolated skill after isolated skill, selection after selection. Don't think; just bubble, As a result, real reading is just for 'bookworms' or for 'actin' like (you're) white.' and while I'm not normally a conspiracy-theory thinker, a small part of me has always wondered if that isn't on purpose.

Finally, and quite related to the other two, our profession matters, and it's under attack. If we're going to be heard, we have to come correct, with actual facts and statistics. We can't fight a slick, insanely-well funded corporate and government partnership with "That's not nice." and "That's no fun." Nobody cares. There are profits to be made.

It's past time to talk about the elephant, and about the damage it's doing.

Anyone should be able to see that there is a big shift in what American business is all about. The era of manufacturing jobs has ended; there are very few 'We don't pay you to think. Shut up and push your button." jobs left. Why, then, would we educate people to compliance? If we're going to hold our own against the rising economies of Asia and South  America, we have to educate toward innovation and collaboration.  Will our current educational landscape support that? I'm thinking it won't.

So, if I haven't totally depressed you, there's one more stop on the hop! Jessica, The Whimsical Teacher, is next!
If, somehow, this is your first hop page, you'll want to begin at the beginning (in the words of Imogene Herdman). It all begins here, at the home of The Research-Based classroom!

Interested in joining in? Here's our schedule. We'd love to know what you think!


  1. I am so glad to hear your son's high school teacher is reading this too. It really is applicable to teachers of all grades and parents too. I so want to come work for your district! My current district tries hard to balance testing and we definitely don't focus on it like my previous district. But it's good to hear there are districts out there that aren't buying into this era of testing.
    The Research Based Classroom

  2. Awesome new blog! I'm going with a turquoise themed classroom this year and I'm redoing my blog too in similar colors too!

    My school district is very similar. Half of the kids come from upper middle class homes (lots of gold miners here), and the other half come from farms or migrant worker families.

    I'm also EXTREMELY lucky to teach in a school where our principal let's the teachers decide how they want to teach. He holds us in high esteem and respects our skills and TRUSTS that we do our best. I try to revolve my reading block around good books and reading/writing about them as opposed to worksheets.

    Great blog, and it wasn't depressing! Just eye opening! :)

  3. Can I come work in your district? If sounds lovely!
    You have written a very powerful post. My husband would totally agree with your "conspiracy theory". It's all about profit at this point and creating/keeping a group that will just "shut up and push a button". The politicians have no interest in fixing the problem....they are part of the problem.

    Quinnessential Lessons

  4. Wow you sound like you have a dream district! Long may it continue. Those people that CHOOSE to make their classrooms all about the drill and kill are seriously outdated, and need to be moved along - for everyone's sake!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Learning to be awesome