Sunday, July 1, 2012

Long roots moor summer to... idleness, reading and reflection

Summer is a time for recharging and reflection--and for reading a lot.  Some readers of this blog have expressed a wish to hear more about Leafstrewn, about classroom experiences and particular instructional issues.  I'll try to write a lot about specifics in the fall, but over the summer I want to read and think on a larger scale. So until my vacation in August I'm going to post, every Friday, mostly about big issues.  I'll try to make it entertaining and provocative.

Over the past couple of days I've been thinking about social class; maybe this Friday I'll write about that.


  1. You might consider responding to David Brooks' column today (Friday). While not about social class (per se), his focus on boys as a special group of students might be worth considering, given your experiences. Just a thought.

    1. I usually try to avoid Brooks, but I'll check it out--thanks!

    2. Wow--what a weird column. I don't think I can do it justice, but it is another bizarre symptom of whatever strange disease has Brooks by the vitals. Briefly, Brooks says: the reason boys don't do as well in school is either (a) that U.S. schools don't offer enough Falstaffian drinking, whoring and brawling, or (b) that U.S. schools aren't rigid, well-disciplined, militaristic institutions (like the one Mitt Romney attended?). Hm. Such an incoherent argument seems to me to say more about Brooks's own psychology than about boys and school. Brooks, who always loves a man with power, is clearly admiringly jealous of Prince Hal's escapades; more interesting is to wonder whether Brooks is unconsciously fantasizing about being one of the guys watching Mitt cut off the victim's hair, or fantasizing about being the victim himself. Probably both. Poor David.

      Nevertheless, the question of boys and school (and reading) is pretty interesting. When my ninth graders wrote novellas this spring, every single girl wrote about boys, and every single boy wrote about either war or sports. Their reading follows similar lines. (Most popular girl book, anything by Sonya Sones; most popular boy book, a YA memoir of the Iraq war.) Boys do still like to read, and giving them more choice is certainly a good idea--but my son the Alex Rider/Willie Mays fan has also loved his share of sensitive Newbery winners.