Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I Guess They're Doubling Down On "Nobody Cares How You (or Your Child) Feel"

Mary Reilly:

For a reader, recognizing the light within is what 'gets made' in transaction with texts. These transactions are often (in)formed by how we feel and think about what we are reading.  What is unfortunate with the some of the rhetoric from Liben and others is that in an attempt to situate the importance of attending directly to the text, they find it necessary to debase readers' feelings that arise when they interact with text. I get the interest in ensuring children actually read the text and do so with integrity.  However, it is shortsighted and misinformed to dismiss feeling.  To a large extent it is why we read. Our children need both types of experiences.

I love the idea of text-based inquiry.  As a former English teacher and professor--such methodology is akin to breathing. For example, I still think that meaning rests on Frost's use of the word 'just' in the closing line of 'After Apple-picking' and if asked to support such an assertion could do so with text in hand.  I recall this not only because of the meaning I have made within the text, but also because the text resonates with me as I age.  The meaning does not hold still, but rather re/emerges alongside occasion.  Reading is complex work. A truth is that making meaning of a text doesn't rest in one approach or the other, but rather both aspects can be found, even when naming them may be difficult. They are rather entwined.

Text dependency is of course critical and it does not represent the totality of reading.  Our expectations need to be a bit bigger so that feeling, attention to textual language and detail,  as well as inquiry are represented in our pedagogical approaches to text and in children's engagements and response to text.  I hope educators gently challenge assertions like Liben makes so that our work can be enriched, not narrowed.

But who among us does not love punching a hippie?

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