Teachers Need to Use Research to Defend What We Know is Right for Children

By Laura Robb on April 22, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Recently, David Coleman of the Common Core State Standards noted that he was not in favor of students reading biographies. His reasoning being that this genre is easy and too much like fiction. It’s fortunate that William Shakespeare did not have to contend with a David Coleman because we would be the poorer since the bard’s historical plays were inspired by biographies. Moreover, Coleman‘s de-emphasis on fiction—stories—eradicates the research of Gordon Wells in The Meaning Makers (Heinemann, 1986) where Wells points out that we are a story telling people and we think and talk in terms of story.  It is fine to take what makes sense of Coleman’s ramblings, especially since he has never taught elementary, middle, or high school students. We teachers need to use research to defend what we know is right for children. I fear that we are once again jumping on a new course of teaching action without being judicious about what to use and what to discard.  I worry that five or ten years down the road we will still be like Alice in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll—running furiously but remaining in the same place.


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