Every month I receive a newspaper devoted to comics— it was a gift from my father-in-law. In each issue, there is a Harper's Index. If you haven't read it before, it's a list of percentages, ratios, and averages of interesting facts. For example:
Number of questions readers of a Norwegian news site must answer correctly about an article before commenting. Answer: 3
This factoid grabbed my attention. When I read online articles and the comment section that follows, it often strikes me that many of the comments demonstrate little understanding of the article or sometimes give the impression that the reader never got past the title.
When I was a middle school dean, as part of my job, I was the high school admission counselor. To better inform my work, I reached out to the high school teachers to find out what they were looking for in a ninth grade student. Somewhat surprisingly, a popular response was "we just want kids who can follow directions." I can see this request as one of survival for chemistry teachers but it clearly has broader implications.
At The Logan School, in addition to following directions, our students are often the ones writing them. Posing questions and then researching and reasoning to discover the myriad ways to approach and record one's learning is a transformative experience. Reading (or writing) instructions may seem mundane (Wash, rinse, and repeat), but when it comes to more important matters (Stand back ten feet. Aim at base of fire), taking the time to figure out the correct approach before jumping into a task clearly comes in handy. "Slow down" should probably be the first step in any set of directions; and in recognition of the approaching spring break, I hope that everyone will find some time to slow down, appreciate, and enjoy.
n.b. If you happen to be putting Ikea furniture together over the break, this blog may be of little use to you.