I spent the day with the other pre-k teachers in my district (by the way, how DO you spell pre-k? Pre-K? PreK? Anyway.) and it was great to see everyone. Ali (the former special ed teacher who worked in my room for four years but now has her own pre-k classroom) was there, so I sat next to her, of course. Miss Slinger was there, and it turns out she got a job working in a different classroom. I’m sad it’s not mine, but glad she has a job. Her new teacher is also named Miss Slinger, which I think is very amusing. Her teacher also looks like a baby, which in this case translates to: she looks like she’s 22 and has never taught a thing. I found that amusing as well.
Miss Slinger sat next to Ali, and it was fun to see how well the two of them got along. At one point they were giggling when they were supposed to be listening, and I leaned over and whispered, “It’s really too bad that you two don’t like each other at all.” They grinned, and I added, non-sarcastically, that they are two of my favorite people, so it’s not actually that surprising. I think I will try to schedule a girls’ night out for the three of us.
My new assistant was there. She is older, quiet, and very nice. Miss Mellow was there, and we sat on either side of our new assistant. Some irritating people were there, as well as one very nice preK (?!) teacher who is quite inarticulate (one “um” for every five words, at least). Once when she was talking, interminably, I turned to Ali and said, “I hate you.” She knew exactly what I meant — it was Ali who pointed out all the ums at a different meeting. If she hadn’t, maybe I wouldn’t find it so painful to listen to this particular teacher. We snorted like the evil teachers we are.
The topic for the morning was the main principles of the new reading curriculum that the K-5 teachers will be using. The idea was that we would a bit of what our students will be doing in kindergarten on up, so that we can prepare them. We did that old jigsaw thing where you split into groups, each group reads a different part of the article or the book, then you discuss with your group, and then you present the main ideas to the whole group. I usually find this excruciating, but today it was fun. For one thing, I got to read a really long, interesting chapter about critical reading. I’m fairly critical; it was right up my alley.
The chapter was well-written, and I enjoyed reading about the purposes of critical reading — challenging assumptions, examining the author’s purpose and biases, looking at things from different perspectives, and knowing how to read advertisements or things on the internet (ahem) without blindly believing everything you read. The thing is, I read the whole chapter on critical reading as a critical reader. I found the authors’ biases — tending toward a liberal, multicultural point of view.
I’m playing devil’s advocate here (I’m a feminist and socially liberal), but it seems to me that if people are trying to persuade you to teach your students critical reading skills, and all the examples have to do with challenging assumptions about girls, or class, or colonization, or race — then it is entirely possible that you are yourself biased toward one particular world view. It’s a world view that I’m fine with, but if we are going to teach actual critical reading, then we should expose our students to a wide variety of perspectives. Wouldn’t it be refreshing every once in a while to be challenged to see things from a Republican viewpoint? Or a fundamentalist Christian one?