"We have overwhelming evidence that libraries work." ~Stephen Krashen (author of The Power of Reading)
When Martin Fletcher (@DrMarty01 on Twitter) passed along this link to a video Interview with Stephen Krashen, I figured I'd just watch the first 5 minutes (it's 28 minutes in total) this morning. But I found that our philosophies were so much in sync that I just had to keep watching. So, it's a lengthy video, but one that’s well worth taking time out for.
Here are some stones which got my soup simmering:
- When adults read regularly, they can delay the onset of dementia.
- When children have access to a wide variety of books, at home and/or school, they’re more likely to develop a lifelong love of reading and learning.
- When school libraries are well stocked and funded, reading scores go up. Reading for pleasure paves the path for academic reading and testing, without all the wasted prep time!
- School and public libraries can significantly counter the effects of poverty (the USA has the highest rate of child poverty in the industrialized world), and help bridge the gap in school achievement. It’s time to rethink, rebuild and reinvent them, instead of closing their doors and/or reducing funding.
- There is no basis for the enormous sums of money which are being funneled to testing companies. If even a fraction of those funds were redirected to school and public libraries (especially in poverty-stricken areas), the impact would be far-reaching. I’d like to add that if teachers spend less time on test preparation and administration, there would be much more time for meaningful, hands-on, creatively designed, thought-provoking, and literature-based learning and teaching.
I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Krashen that “libraries are the key” to not only transforming education, but to revitalizing communities as well. The two go hand-in-hand, especially in the midst of this choppy sea of information we're all struggling to keep afloat in.
However, where he and I differ is in the fact that I would put the word “ALL” in there. ALL of America’s children can benefit from LESS testing and MORE books. I’ve seen far too many children, of ALL levels of socioeconomic status, who underachieve and who dread reading. And it has everything to do with the testing culture which has permeated through the majority of our schools.
So, Krashen’s ideas can not only breathe life into poverty-stricken communities, but the real power is in how they can revolutionize the way we ALL parent, the way we ALL teach, the way we ALL read, the way we ALL learn, and the way we ALL spend our time.
Like I’ve said before, sometimes, to move ahead, we first need to go back. Simple things often make the most profound differences in our lives. So, to those who claim the world has moved beyond libraries and books-in-print, I say, when will the shiny object syndrome ever end? Are we really leading by hopping on the bandwagon, or are we being led? Don’t our children deserve better?
Why are so many of us casting away the most important stone in the soup of education?
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