Years ago, Steve Allen hosted and moderated a terrific television show titled Meeting of Minds. Steve resurrected some of the greatest thinkers from different eras to discuss a wide range of ideas and issues. I thought I’d use this format to respond to recent posts on the subject of independent reading in the classroom. Today's subject: teacher modeling.

Steve: Well, before the commercial we seemed to have resolved two of the issues regarding independent reading in the classroom. Albeit from different perspectives, I think we established some sort of a consensus that the purists who argue for completely free choice pleasure reading with no written response/accountability are simply misguided. Our second issue has to do with teacher modeling. Some argue that if the teacher spends class time doing independent reading, this time commitment teaches students that reading is a priority. Also, some would insist that teachers must read along with their students for proper modeling.

Yoda: A master a servant must have. A model a painter must have. A—

Kerouac: Stop with the direct objects you post-pubescent puppet! Why is conformity so highly prized in our schools? Modeling is overrated. Students will not develop reading skills or learn to love reading because the teacher stops grading papers and reads silently for fifteen minutes a day. There is no causal connection. In fact, rebellious teenagers may be more turned off to reading because they will never identify with some old guy sitting at his desk reading On the Road.

Dr. Phil: Worse yet, some adult reading one of their teenage books... Bob Dylan said, “Don’t follow leaders; watch your parking meters.”

Sartre: And no student would ever think or say, “Ms. Jones, I would really enjoy reading more and realize its true value, if you stopped emailing during SSR.”

Plato: If amount of class time signals educational priorities, why wouldn’t a teacher spend fifteen minutes a day, three times a week, on say morals and ethics? Surely developing kindness and compassion should be equally as important for the good of our society as developing life-long readers.

Tom Cruise: I feel like jumping on your couch, Steve.

Steve: Try to refrain, Tom.

To view the rest of the debate, which includes the issues of free choice reading, written response/accountability, and reading at home, please visit Meeting of the Minds.

Tags: comprehension, dear, development, fluency, independent, reading, ssr, strategies, vocabulary

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