“Research suggests that a trend toward less challenging texts in high school, and a tilt toward narrative texts, at the expense of informational and expository ones, have left young people particularly weak at comprehending and dissecting information from difficult texts and using it to build evidence-based arguments.” (See “Teachers Seek Ways to Gauge Rigor of Texts” by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, vol.30, No. 24, March 16, 2011)
This quote (also mentioned in an earlier blog) makes me worried about how we nurture lifelong readers.
Take Jo Worthy’s work, for example. Worthy says,
“A common characteristic among avid adult readers is that they have had the opportunity to read materials of their own choosing ….Many educators tend to think they must exert control over the materials that are available for school reading. While it is important for educators to ensure that students have access to high-quality, conceptually challenging literature, it is also essential to address students' preferences in order to capture their attention and engagement and, thus, to foster learning. ….If we want to reach students, it is important to offer them variety in reading formats and to listen to their preferences.”
(See “What makes intermediate-grade students want to read?” by Jo Worthy, The Reading Teacher, vol. 55, No. 6, March 2002)
Now, you could say, “Kaa, Worthy is talking about intermediate-grade readers. Once youth get to high school, all of this choice stuff has to go, and they have to join the real world of reading whatever the teacher says is important.”
Again, I’m all for rigor, but isn't student choice important, too?