"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ohanian: I wonder why The New York Times gives so much space to the opinion of amateurs without even a nod to professionals in the field.

Susan Ohanian responds to Sara Mosle’s What Should Children Read” (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/what-should-children-read/)

“I wonder why The New York Times gives so much space to the opinion of amateurs without even a nod to professionals in the field.”


Dear Editor:

Bringing about 20 years more teaching experience than Sara Mosle brought to her out-of-balance article (“What should children read?” Nov. 25), I can cite hundreds of instances of student writing being informed by the fiction they love, though, admittedly, I'm not talking about a fixation on sentence elements that will supposedly lead directly to better corporate memos such as the topic sentences Mosle cites. It would be useful to poll parents, asking how early they want their children’s education stripped of fiction and directed toward the utilitarian, market analysis goals so loved by David Coleman.
Regrettably, Mosle perpetuates the myth that non-teacher David Coleman has a clue of what is developmentally appropriate to students needs, and it is worse than a mistake that she fails to include the judgments of experienced teachers or researchers.
I wonder why The New York Times gives so much space to the opinion of amateurs without even a nod to professionals in the field.

Sincerely,

Susan Ohanian


2 comments:

  1. The Times post was a bait and switch: Mosle started with the anecdote about Malcolm Gladwell reading 100 talk of the town pieces before he wrote his first, but then she switched to arguing that kids should read tons of non-fiction in order to write it. This is obviously silly--the question is not, WHat did Gladwell read in the two hours or so before writing hist first piece for the New Yorker, but what did Gladwell read for decades before that, and as a child. The somewhat surprising answer seems to be: trashy airport thrillers! Of course, what we really need to make sure is that kids are reading a lot of something, anything--and then if we want to teach them to write a Talk of the Town piece, have them read a bunch of those right before they write it!

    (I cover this in a bit more depth at:
    http://literacyinleafstrewn.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-talk-of-town-malcolm-gladwell-non.html)

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  2. If you haven't read it yet, private school teacher with a degree that I could not find though she graduated Summa Cum Laude at Princeton and was a fellow at Oxford, Sara Mosle comes up with a brilliant idea and writes an entire NYT op-ed about it. Instead of too much fiction or Common Core's recipe reading recommendation, let's do narrative non-fiction! Doesn't really address the Common Core Standards or their control over the curriculum across the country.

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