Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Am mired in high school preparations for Michael. With a change: application deadlines and interviews are past. What's going on now is that the hubby and I are the ones going to the two possible high school candidates and grilling having a conversation with them on what they will be able to offer a student like Michael.

During one of the grillings conversations which took place yesterday, the Admissions Director said something I made sure to repeat to Michael, then thought to share with you, e-world: "The two most important factors that ensure a student will be successful in high school are:

1) parents who care and are vigilant over monitoring their child's progress (check!)


2) if the student is a reader.

Got that? Good.

I will say, as regards No. 1, that I had this particular grilling conversation shortly after happening to read U.S. Education Secretary Whats-His-Name appropriately observe that class size is one of the least fruitful (and one of the most expensive) approaches that people are recommending when they're trying to suggest ways to improve the educational system. I agree. To paraphrase someone, perhaps Whats-His-Name again, I, too, would rather have my child in a class of 35 with an excellent teacher, than in a class of 20 with a mediocre teacher.

But let Moi, in such a brief blog post, not get mired in the politicized education controversy -- let me focus again on No. 2. Reading is not just about improving language or learning about literature. Reading is about helping the child conceptualize.

In a pressed-for-funds education world where the focus is on making sure the "basics" are taught, I don't see as much talk about this ability to conceptualize. That's too bad -- when we say education is the key to a (good) future, it's not about making sure one can add; it'd be about, say, the ability to protect a college or retirement fund from inflation or deflation. Relatedly, if we could get beyond being bogged down in how well a student reads, I suspect that there could be a larger role for Poetry in the classroom: honing conceptualization skills. One can certainly better understand the lack of fixity in (known) history, identity, politics, economics, culture and power by recognizing how language comes to be compromise(d).

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