Monday, December 26, 2016

The Least of Russ on Reading 2016

This is my third annual publication of posts that, for one reason or another, attracted little attention the first time around. It has been a year of gratifying growth in this blog; a year filled with the excitement of the publication of my book, A Parent's Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, and a year of great consternation and disappointment on the political front. Through it all, this blog has allowed me to give voice to my beliefs about good literacy instruction and sound education policy and to make new friends and greet new readers from throughout the country and around the world.

So, as Noble Laureate Bob Dylan would say, while "writers and critics throughout the land" publish their year end "Best of ..." lists, I present The Least of Russ on Reading. I hope you will give some of these posts from the last year another glance.

Happy New Year!

Reading Our Way to Empathy

A great classroom conversation leads me to an insight on the importance of fiction and poetry in helping students see the point of view of others - to develop empathy. This development of empathy is a key "outcome" of the reading of literature in the classroom.

Accountability in Public Schools: The Three-Legged Stool

Corporate Education Reformers seem to forget that the bargain struck on accountability in the schools was that students and teachers would be held accountable for improved performance, while policy makers and state and federal governments would be held accountable for making sure the resources were available for students and teachers to be successful. Somewhere along the way, that third part of the three-legged stool fell by the wayside, while reformers doubled-down on student and teacher accountability.

The Importance of Making Mistakes

Mistakes are the lifeblood of teaching. It is through student error that we learn what to teach next and through our own errors that we learn how to teach better.

Can Fiction Save Democracy?

Right before the election I found myself musing about the importance of good fiction to a functioning democratic society. Could it be that the lower status of fiction in the public school curriculum today is the exact wrong way to go right now?