In the first series under Lies ELA Teachers Tell, I will discuss the top five lies we tell our students. As with everything we do as teachers, we are well-meaning with these lies. But, in the long-term, these lies hurt our students. I will discuss the lie, what we really mean when we tell the lie, and how we can achieve the same objective.
Why do we tell this lie? How did we become so arrogant as to think we had the right to say which books were important to read and which aren't?
I'm not sure how this became such a common lie, and no doubt there will be some who disagree with me. You can see the comments to the post about why whole-class, teacher-selected books don't work for other's thoughts as well as mine. Let's for a minute forget the cultural capital argument of reading some books over others, however valid of an argument it might be.
What disturbs me most is that when we say this, we take a little power away from students AND hurt their critical thinking. Shouldn't they decide what's important and why? That can be empowering, as well as exercise the critical thinking muscle of evaluating. They would have to be able to justify their reasons for thinking a book is important and we can share how other people define "important". Students can further evaluate others' criteria for "importance". How many perfectly good lessons surrounding this are thrown away when we decide what's important?
Too often, though, we take that power away.
Next time: Lie #3 We Tell Our Students ... "A paragraph contains 3-5 sentences."