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Saturday, September 13, 2014


This is your mother talking to you today!

I’ve been around this rodeo a LONG time and there’s one thing I must warn you about! There are people in our profession who think it’s THEIR way or NO WAY. They think there is only ONE way to teach phonics, writing, math, etcetera, etcetera. They are very authoritarian and think they have the magic formula. You need to do it their way or you are wrong!!

Well, guess what? There is no one correct way to teach children to read or write or do math. Take a look at who’s running our country right now. Most of them learned with Sally, Dick, and Jane, some learned with phonics, and some learned with whole language, but they all figured it out. In the “old days” when we taught “writing” we meant penmanship. The kids copied off the board and we never asked them to express their thoughts. Yet somehow those adults figured out how to write.

I’ve had teachers tell me, “We are not allowed to sing your songs because you make the sound too many times. Children can’t sound out words that way.” That’s just plain silly!

Another teacher mentioned that they weren’t suppose to do math without a ten frame. Isn’t it interesting that children have been adding and subtracting for hundreds of years using their fingers?

Oh, here’s another one. A teacher was told that crossing the midline was a waste of time. Brain experts Ratey, Jensen, Hannaford, Schiller, Wolf and hundreds of occupational therapists promote cross-lateral activities with successful results.

There are also people who truly believe the world is flat.

I don’t know where some of these “experts” get their ideas. When you hear something suspicious you need to say, “Do you have scientific research studies to support that?” (You see, sometimes people do research with such a small sample and in such a controlled study they can skew the results. People wanting you to buy their product are often guilty of this.)

Many years ago I was fortunate to hear William Perry speak about cognitive and ethical development. It’s a useful framework to consider when talking about teaching strategies, approaches to learning, politics, and life.

Phase I – Dualism – Right/Wrong – Good/Bad
            This is right so that must be wrong.
            This is the good way to do it and that’s the bad way.

Phase II – Relativism – Well, it depends.
            Maybe this is right and maybe it’s wrong?
            It could be this, or it could be that?

Phase III – Personal Commitment
            This is what I believe.
            This is what I know from my personal experiences.
            You can believe what you want, but this is what I believe.

I will end with chocolate chip cookies. We were discussing approaches to reading and one teacher commented, “You know, there are many ways to make chocolate chip cookies…and they all taste yummy!” Whatever we do we need to remember to make it “tasty” for our little learners!
There is no one correct way to teach all children. 
The only magic ingredient that I know about is the TEACHER!