Friday, May 29, 2009

For the Love of Learning

I cannot teach anybody anything.
I can only make them think.

A few weeks ago I saw Peter Johnston, an Education professor at SUNY Albany and author of a great little book called Choice Words, speak at a conference I attended. On that day, he said many profound things that I am still thinking about including this, “Who cares if kids love books? I want them to love what books can do for them.”

This makes me think a lot about my own reading life. I love books. There is no question about this. My favorite way to spend a Saturday is browsing Barnes and Noble. I can lose myself for hours meandering from section to section, cracking spines and skimming backs of books.

That said, I don’t just love books. I love what is inside of books. Last week I finished A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. After reading this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about right brain thinking. I started collecting metaphors. I wanted to run to Avalon in Stony Brook so I could walk the labyrinth chanting a word like hope or faith to see what creative things might come from me. Over vacation I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and met my all-time favorite book character—Hans Hubermann. How I wish that man were real! What a kind and gentle soul. He made me think hard about humanity and circumstance.

Peter Johnston was right. Inasmuch as I love books, I love what books do for me. They make me think. They make me wonder. They make me question my world. I love anything that makes me do those things. Talking with my colleagues makes me think and wonder and question. Seeing people like Peter Johnston makes me think and wonder and question.

Learning is pervasive and never ending. Teachers know this better than anybody. How are you planning to think and learn over the upcoming summer? Are there books that you are excited to read? Are you planning to take a course? If you’re not sure, know that there will be lots of thinking going on in August at Literacy Builders’ summer workshops and everybody is invited to join! For information, visit

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