Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thinking About Story, the CCSS, and Rhizomes

Finger painting by grade 1 children

“Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet. But they are never lost for good.” - Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane


I overhear my son say to his grandmother, "The difficulty isn't making the game, the challenge is in developing the idea, the story upon which the game rests. The first is easy, just technical. The story is not."


On a car trip south, we listen to David Sedaris's Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls and Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Listening to each, I think about the primacy of story and the current emphasis in schools governed by the CCSS on informational types of text--as well as reading literature as information. I wonder if these rather arbitrary percentages of text types to be read by age deserve our attention. Is the way to a more a literate public truly achieved by portioning texts in equal amounts for millions of children by grade level?  Does that even make sense?


A rhizome finds its way. So do readers who become life-long ones, not compliant ones.  Perhaps we might be better off ensuring (As best we can) that children learn why and how to read texts rhizomatically.


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