Opening a Door


“Reading a book is so passé”. It has been said before: we live in an image culture; the length of our reading span is max. 140 words. The word “text’ means “short message’’ to many of us. But there is a world to win, when one picks up a book and sits quiet for a while. Those having watched the movie “Dead Poet Society” will wholeheartedly acknowledge the power of coming into contact with Giant Texts. But then again you need a guide, a teacher, a door-keeper who foreshadows storied landscapes and told journeys.
The story told in the movie could be called an early example of ‘flipping the classroom”(1). Students were not forced to read but invited to discover texts. How different this is from what stands for a “Canon of Texts to Read”, i.e, a fixed predetermined, and mandatory set of books to be swallowed. Can it be a surprise that students oppose to coming into contact with such texts?
Is there not a middle-of-the road strategy available that can hint to a text while also connect with the interests of the reader? The cited article, I believe, offers prospects. A tool is developed that helps teachers to select texts that are adapted to student reading ability at increasing complexity levels (2).
The Text Evaluator Tool (which is quite sophisticated) helps to make balanced judgments about selecting the right kind of text. For it to be challenging, I would say, remains difficult for a tool to grasp. Opening a door is an opportunity and invitation to explore; and that lies in the hand of the student.

The Text Evaluator Tool: Helping Teachers and Test Developers Select Texts for Use in Instruction and Assessment
Author(s): Kathleen M. Sheehan, Irene Kostin, Diane Napolitano, and Michael Flor
The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 115, No. 2 (December 2014), pp. 184-209
Published by: The University of Chicago Press