I think the danger with a lot of what gets done at the moment is that there’s so much scaffolding that you end up just teaching the scaffold, and you really don’t teach the way of thinking and the way of reading or writing—you just teach them to deliver the tool that you’ve taught them. I was looking at another teacher’s student’s writing, a sixth grader writing a literary essay—which is just an offensive thing to think about anyway—and he showed me his template. His template shows him which words he should be beginning his paragraph with. He doesn’t want to write this, there’s no discretion about how to write it, and then however rich his thinking might be about a piece of writing that he’s reading, he has to make it extremely adaptable in order to shoehorn it into this format he’s been given. It’s discouraging him from thinking deeply about the text.
The Teacher You Want To Be: Essays About Children, Learning, and Teaching, edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene, will release October 22nd.