Thursday, 22 March 2007

Oh, Brave New World! That has such bloggers in it.

There's an awful fascination in touring around through new blogs. I'm finding wonderful stuff, and a lot of terrific writers. (I am about to paste in a lot more names in the 'People I Learn From' column.) There are so many different ways that people approach things: I read something and I think 'right on' (or should that be 'write on!'?) Then I read some comments and have to go and look at the page of the person who wrote the comment I liked and then……. It is now almost the middle of the afternoon and I have got very little done except bop around the blogosphere, getting pulled farther and farther in. And my office is getting worse. Piled with jobs that could have been done today.

This is actually a shot from my last babysitting day -- Little Stuff is in my swivel chair contributing to grama's mess. She will be four in May and in the last month she has gone from fairly random scribbling to drawing faces with eyes, noses and mouths (and ears, yet), and can reliably print a version of her name that is recognizable. She's a daycare kid and so she sees her name on everything: she could make an attempt at the first letter around Christmas time and now, all of a sudden all six letters are there, sometimes out of order or upside down, but there they are. Her mother is worried that she insists on making the 'u' flipped vertically. Can't see it as a problem, myself. Her aunt had vertical and horizontal displacement problems, mild dyslexia in fact, at that age, and she was just fine by age seven.

Mind you, the younger daughter's Grade One teacher was just stellar, and highly trained in multiple approach theories of teaching reading. For me, Grade One is one of the most important years in school and deserves the best teachers and the smallest class size. That's the year that most kids can learn to read and they should end the year able to read to themselves. The other really important level is the first year of secondary school (or last year of intermediate in some systems), the year the majority of kids are thirteen. That's the year that the spoons should be taken out of their little mouths and the pressure applied, if necessary, to cause them to learn how to research.

I read, I think in a book called The Tipping Point, (and I know I own a copy, somewhere) that a research study done in the States found that the only consistent indicator of superior performance in school was the presence of books in the home. Not reading to kids, or parents who read, but that the home had books. I hope I've remembered that properly. I have so many dern books in my home that I can't find the one I want when I want it. I've thought about that a lot and it seems to me that the correlation must be that if there are books there, the kid goes and looks in the books to find out things and learns to research. And once a child knows how to do that, there is no stopping her.

I wonder what the internet and Googling things will do to that statistic. A while back I got a frantic cry from the middle grandkid, whose project was due the next morning, and what I did was hit the computer and email him a selection of web sites. If that had been my own kid twenty years earlier what I would have done was either drive her to the library or start hauling books off the shelves. Even ten years ago, if I had been procrastinating for a whole morning, I would have been doing it with text in my hands, probably newspapers or magazines. Only, I wouldn't have been able to stick a comment on the op. ed. page, the way it can be done in a blog. I guess it's the interaction that is so seductive.

And being able to fiddle with it. I have now pulled it back twice to fix typos. I should get a life!

1 comment:

  1. If I remember correctly, part of the reason books in the home made such a difference was that people who own that many books clearly value books and reading and learning, and growing up in that mileaux produces readers.

    When Maya had a project on food in the middle ages in grade 4, my first thought was that I had the perfect book - all about life in the middle ages. I found it and pointed out the relevant bits. Then we went and surfed the web. And to my surprise, any site worth its salt just quoted my book!

    When it comes to straight information, the lesson I learned: internet good; books better. But then, I'm old.