Elbowesque response #4 (workable clay) intertwined with #5
re passage on pages 18 – 19:
So it is a Sunday, after the 4th of July mind you, and I am seated at my kitchen table with my ever trusty laptop when I realized that I would really much rather be eating ice cream with large gobs of Kit Kat in it than trying to crank out a response. And you see automatically I am giving this information via story.
I cannot help but wholeheartedly agree with Thomas Newkirk’s arguments (takes me back to a Saturday morning when Laura Brown and I met at Crema and she was so excited over this book, but at the time I did not fully understand why – well guess what? Now I do!). Even at this moment I am predicting that when I read this out loud that the majority of the listeners will try to cling to what I am saying via pictures in their minds or try to find the plot so that they can follow along…good luck.
To help, imagine this: David Letterman in some dark gray suit with a purple tie strolling on stage, waving, giving us that gap toothed smile as he takes a seat behind his brown desk, whips out a book and says, “Tonight I would like to talk about Thomas Newkirk and his book Minds Made for Stories: How we Really Read and Write Informational and Persuasive Texts.” Imagine him giving us a real serious look. “Now according to Newkirk, we tend to gather information best when it is told through narrative or stories are intertwined with it. Now that is such a simple idea that I don’t know why he had to write a whole book – the first chapter was sufficient!” The audience laughs. Letterman whips out a white note card and says, “So folks here we go, I will share my Top Ten Things of what I Would Like To Do With This Passage from pages 18 – 19:
10) Leave a copy of it in it teachers’ boxes and see if it leads to a massive educational overhaul where teachers teach reading and writing for authentic purposes and in authentic ways… Perhaps that hamburger and color coded insanity for writing would finally disappear…imagine that! (the audience laughs)
9) Ask myself, if we gear reading and writing towards narrative then where the hell is the rigor? Haven’t we been asking that all along?
8) Mail a copy to the textbook publishing companies (McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Harcourt Brace) to see if they will change their approach and forward a softcopy to the so-called “academic” writers, just to see their reaction.
7) Reincarnate John Dewey and Ralph Waldo Emerson, invite them to a public roast and at the end let them read this passage! And yes Newkirk would be in the room!
6) Ask, is this really the reason why so many of us struggle to read informational writing? What about comprehension strategies – are they being taught to kids these days? What about text features? Does that go out the window? (in the back ground the audience laughs)
5) Wonder if this is the reason why I don’t own any informational texts other than The Onion’s Our Dumb World book.
4) Use it as a passage to be incorporated at the Advanced ISI 2015 session and have the participants respond to this response (the audience roars with laughter).
3) Ponder whether this might be another political movement that makes Americans come across as dumb, like saying, “Hey we don’t read informational texts unless they’re entertaining! We don’t understand it unless you start with ‘Once upon a time””
2) Reread it and make sure I truly understood what Newkirk was saying.
And the number one thing I would like to do with this passage is . . . drumroll please:
1) Ignite a movement of enthusiastic readers who refuse to read “boring” books, because that’s really the bottom line!” (the audience laughs and applauds).
Cymbals chime in the background, Letterman giggles and the lights dim, leaving me at my kitchen table, wondering if I should get the ice cream now or later.