RESUSITATING READING WILL RESUSITATE LEARNING: HOPE LIVES

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READICIDE  §  KELLY GALLAGHER

I’d had my eye on this book for a while before I bought it.  It is a rare design that has a blurb on the front.  And the blurb on the back is better!  A full-on,-fuck-off proper blurb (to quote Eddie Izzard and Guy Ritchie).  It has paragraphs and a bio, an excerpt from the foreward and even — wait for it — a BULLET LIST!  Now THAT is a well-fit blurb!  This book is published by Stenhouse, who, I’m learning, is one of the major publishers of books by educators for educators.  The others being Heinemann (incl. Boynton, Cook), and Longman (from Pearson).

Readicide is a thick, pervasive, spirit-crushing wave of deceptive practices.  READICIDE is a good book by a good writer.  Gallagher is a Teacher-Consultant out of California. His take on the reading situation in schools has legs — and teeth.  His street cred comes from the fact that he is a TC. So he’s done the research and the leg work.  Also, what he has experienced, I have experienced. As have many of my colleagues.  He’s telling it like it is. Solid!

This is a scary age we are entering where congress and other lower levels of policy-makers are looking for ways to stick it to teachers.  We are being held accountable for the failure of just about everyone.   Like we work alone. The outcome of all that finger-pointing? Pay cuts, lay-offs, hostile and paranoid work environments and students who can’t read because they have to practice testing all the time. Student who won’t read because they think reading is only for tests.  Administrators panicking because reading is stationary and the only “hands-on” is holding the book.  They don’t see it for what it is — all the action is going on in the mind. Surely that counts for something.  But that’s not an issue that will be settled here.

So READICIDE?  What’s in it for you?

Readicide is the excision of real time for plain ol’ reading.  Reading with a book in your hands and looking at the pages.  Reading where you tune the outside world out and concentrate on what’s going on in your head.  Reading where you are acting out scenes in your head, in case you have to deal with it later in real life.  Reading for enjoyment.

Reading for enjoyment!

Reading for ENJOYMENT!

Yeah, I went there.  Eat it.

Gallagher’s book is not just a compendium of complaints, it’s a book of solutions.  Every major complaint is coupled with ideas for solutions.  He even includes an index at the back of classroom-friendly books.  You don’t have to read it cover to cover.  Gallagher does a good job of keeping everything connected so you can read what you like, then come back later for more.

One of the best things about reading this book is that there’s lots of possible solutions.  The main thing is that you have to fight for time.  Fight for variety:  literature, job-specific documents, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines. It’s all reading, and with a touch of discernment, it’s all good. But students need uninterrupted time to concentrate.  Fight for consistency.  Yes, sadly, it is a fight.  But it’s worth it.  And it works.

Don’t even get me started on “writicide”!

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