When we read the end “Of Mice and Men,” together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I

Claire Hollander is a middle school English teacher who designed small group classes of 6th-8th graders reading classic literature. But when the school’s test scores declined last year for the first time ever, she felt added pressure to abandon her small groups in place of test preparation:

It is ironic, then, that English Language Arts exams are designed for “cultural neutrality.” This is supposed to give students a level playing field on the exams, but what it does is bleed our English classes dry. We are trying to teach students to read increasingly complex texts, but they are complex only on the sentence level — not because the ideas they present are complex, not because they are symbolic, allusive or ambiguous. These are literary qualities, and they are more or less absent from testing materials…

We cannot enrich the minds of our students by testing them on texts that purposely ignore their hearts. By doing so, we are withholding from our neediest students any reason to read at all. We are teaching them that words do not dazzle but confound. We may succeed in raising test scores by relying on these methods, but we will fail to teach them that reading can be transformative and that it belongs to them.

From “Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “When we read the end “Of Mice and Men,” together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I

  1. Oh, wow! I read this article a few days ago but didn’t realize the power of the excerpt you used for a title: “When we read the end “Of Mice and Men,” together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I.” Wow! What a good moment / scene.

Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s