The Key is Literacy

A while ago several of my colleagues and myself were required to spend 2 whole days in a “training seminar” concerning the “Keys to Literacy.” Did this seminar include interesting points of view concerning great works of literature? Did it perhaps discuss the need for a more literary curriculum? Is it possible that we were shown the latest and greatest research-driven programs to improve our students’ literacy?

In a word, no.

Instead we were treated to 2 agonizingly slow days of how to produce “top-down topic webs” (graphic organizers) and “two column notes” (Cornell notes). Of course every teacher who’s worth anything at all has been using these strategies for at least 20 years, although we didn’t know that they now have different names and are therefore completely different from what we’ve been doing.

I mention this because tomorrow I get to spend another entire day learning the Keys to Literacy and I can barely sit still for excitement. I’ve been told that our training tomorrow will include a heartfelt apology for wasting our time last time and to show us that they’ve learned their lesson they are only going to take up 1 whole day of our time detailing the concept that teaching students to read is a good thing.

Here is my radical concept. I think that the key IS literacy. Exposing students to more work more often in interesting ways is how every literate person ever got that way. Graphic organizers and Cornell notes are useful and should be used, but how many millions of people never used them and are still (quite improbably) not just literate, but capable of complex thought!?

Anyway, while I’m attempting to keep my brain from leaking out of my ears tomorrow, I hope that everyone else is having a wonderfully productive day. Here’s what will be going on in my world.

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