Dear Cathy Nolan,
How’s ignorant bliss working out for you?
Teaching literacy has been my career and life for over thirty years now. Having grown up in the South with my own peculiar grasp of so-called standard English, I feel fortunate to have rich and lingering struggles with using the language in ways that conform to the ever-shifting conventions of “good English.”
As a teacher, I have watched the field of literacy flounder under this failure of logic: Expert reading and writers demonstrate X, Y, Z skills; thus, the way to move novice readers and writers to expert is to give them X, Y, Z skills.
Yes, that seems compelling and doable, but it is folly.
One of the main areas of that compulsion to teaching literacy in direct and isolated ways is vocabulary instruction, often anchored by the vocabulary book.
Many moons ago when I was a pup of a teacher, my English department was faced with choosing new…
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