Monday, March 30, 2015

Poetry in Steel

The Eiffel Tower opened to the public March 31, 1889. In honor of April officially designated as National Poetry Month, here is one of my favorite poems about the Eiffel Tower, which has always made me think the tower is no less than poetry in steel.

The Eiffel Tower
If I wanted to see the Eiffel tower

I’d pick one photo

of the hundreds,
of thousands 

ever taken

Taken from every possible angle

In every light available

From down, down, beneath,
and from up, up, above

From an apartment balcony

late at night

with a glass of wine

in one hand.

But, I don’t want to see the Eiffel tower; No! 

Instead; I want to see

The laugh lines

of the man who built it

Or the rosy cheeked child

on the corner street

wishing that they were bigger

than they already sadly were,

Or the imprints

of a new-born goat’s feet

in the red, red sand,

of West Africa.

I’d want to see

‘from whence he came’

and ‘from whence he goes’ “

and what home really is again.

I’d want to see

What it means

to see Something more

than just another photo view, of the same old Eiffel tower.

Although I am unable to find the author of this poem, I am grateful it was written.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Diane quoted in South China Morning Post "Fiction unlocks a more meaningful world for young readers."

Diane stressed the importance of exposing children to quality literature that offer stories rich in vocabulary, with characters that readers care about and care about what happens to them. Diane flagged the genre of Bibliotherapy, which offers books that are written with a direct message of how to cope or how to respond to a situation, akin to self-help for children. While self help books can be helpful and have their place,  they are not to be confused with literature.

Diane explained that literature is not meant to be a lesson, but a way to enter into an experience that helps a reader understand his or her thoughts and feelings. Reading literature is often very therapeutic in that is helps us better understand ourselves and others, but literature and self help books have little in common.  read more 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Diane is quoted at an evening program with Madeline Levine for Bring Me A Book in Hong Kong

“The Greatest gift we can give our children is our attention. Reading and talking about a story creates a strong parent-child bond and is the attention children need to thrive.”
Talking with children about the stories they read gives children the words they need to make sense of the world and better understand themselves. What happened in a story is important, but more important is what the story means to a child.

Monday, March 2, 2015

John Dewey, Dr. Seuss & a one room schoolhouse in Armenia Colombia

A one room rural schoolhouse in Colombia has much to teach us about the schools children need to be successful learners. Nueva Escuela’s curriculum is predicated on the belief that children learn best by doing, rather than being endlessly drilled for national exams.

It is unfortunate and surprising that Escuela Nueva is almost unknown in the United States, even though it has won numerous international awards because so much of the thinking behind the curriculum and its application is closely aligned with the thinking of our very own John Dewey. Dewey, decades ago, asserted that students learned best though experience.

I am quite certain our very own Dr. Seuss, who would be 111 years old today, would be a big fan of Escuela Nueva. Seuss was very much responsible for “killing off the Dick and Jane readers” and changed forever the way children learned to read when he wrote The Cat in the Hat, his first I Can Read Book. Comprised of 1629 words in length, with a vocabulary of only 223 words, the book was written to teach children how to read.
He knew that children who were bored by the Dick & Jane readers were not children who would learn to be good readers.

Rachel Lotan, a professor emeritus at Stanford said ‘Doing well on high stakes test scores is what drives the public school and fear of giving students more control of their own education will being down those scores.'

It seems counter productive to ignore evidence that shows students learn best by doing and when they are encouraged to think for themselves and engage in collaborative learning that speaks to their interests.

And we wish Dr Seuss long life in our hearts and minds—