Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Plums, poems, what a kid should read

Post-poetry night, Laurel forwarded me this and it made me very happy for lots of reasons. Oh, William Carlos Willams. Oh, the solace of plums. And finally, oh, what kids should read, vs. what they get. Or maybe not get--it's not about understanding, it's about appreciating. At least a lot of the time. Not as often when one is an eighth grade teacher--I can't just let my kids appreciate as much as I'd like to, I have to make sure they comprehend fully, which means that I don't leave them room, really, to like it, unless they understand it. Which means that my students who tend not to understand so quickly very rarely reach the point of enjoying stuff we read. Also, not everyone understands about appreciating vs. getting, and the pleasure of just appreciating, without trying really hard to get it. You have to be able to approach something in a certain way to manage that. You have to be able to just latch on to the words, or one image, or some idea that you make for yourself out of the words. Kids who can do that are lucky. Also somehow I think that kids who get books taken away from them are lucky. Too many kids never get to think of reading as forbidden, dangerous, rebellious. If more kids did, maybe more kids would be interested in reading.

Really the whole idea of appreciating vs. getting applies to all art experiences, but literature isn't treated as art in school; it's a means to an end, especially in our current joyless era of No Child Left Behind. This isn't always true, but I think it often is, especially for struggling readers. I am revising and adding onto this post, which isn't very bloggish of me. But I am still thinking about it all. I am always thinking about it, really.

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