Transcript: Jerome Harste | May 03, 1991

(music plays)

A slate showing an open book and a paper with notes on it appear on screen.

A caption reads "Innovators in education, TVO daytime, Jerome Harste."

A woman in her late thirties with blond hair in a bob sits in a room. She wears a red shirt under a black vest. Behind her, a painting of a landscape hangs on the wall.

A caption reads "Lynne Hyne, TVO daytime."

She says TODAY ON INNOVATORS, I
INTERVIEWED JEROME HARSTE,
PROFESSOR OF LANGUAGE
EDUCATION, INDIANA UNIVERSITY.
FROM THE BACKGROUND I
RESEARCHED ON JEROME, ONE
QUESTION I LOOKED FORWARD TO
ASKING HIM WAS, WHERE DOES
BASIC SKILLS FIT INTO THE
WHOLE LANGUAGE PROGRAM?
HIS ANSWER?
WAIT AND SEE.
MEET JEROME HARSTE.

Now, Lynne and Jerome sit in a living room opposite each other.
Jerome is in his late fifties, with graying hair and goatee. He wears a black suit, white shirt and dark patterned tie.

Lynne wears a striped green, blue and red long sleeved dress.

She says JEROME, READING, LANGUAGE,
LITERACY, THEY REALLY FORM THE
BASIS OR THE HEART OF WHAT
YOU'VE BEEN INTERESTED IN
FOR YEARS.
WHAT I'M INTERESTED IN KNOWING
IS, FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A
TEACHER AND A RESEARCHER, WHAT
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS NEED TO
COME TOGETHER INTO A
GOOD READING PROGRAM?

Jerome says OH, WELL, I GUESS, I GUESS I
THINK ONE OF THE KEY THINGS IN
PLANNING A LITERACY PROGRAM
OF ANY SORT IS TO REALLY
UNDERSTAND THE ROLE THAT
LANGUAGE PLAYS IN LEARNING,
AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT OUR
RESEARCH HAS BEEN ABOUT.

Now, a caption appears on screen. It reads "Jerome Harste, Indiana University."

Jerome continues I THINK WHEN WE UNDERSTAND,
YOU KNOW, THAT LANGUAGE ALLOWS
EACH OF US TO GIVE VOICE TO
OUR WORLD AND THAT WE HAVE TO
START OUR PROGRAMS WITH
EVERYBODY MAKING SENSE FROM
THEIR OWN PERSPECTIVE, WE'VE
GOT TO LISTEN TO THOSE VOICES
AND FROM THOSE VOICES ON
THE FLOOR, WE CAN START NEW
CONVERSATIONS AND WE CAN TAKE
NEW POLITICAL KINDS OF ACTION,
WE CAN TAKE NEW STANCES.
BUT I REALLY THINK THAT ONE OF
THE KEY THINGS, WE CAN REFLECT
ON WHAT WE SAID.
LANGUAGE IS A VERY POWERFUL
SORT OF TOOL FOR OUTGROWING
OURSELVES, AND I THINK IT'S
CRUCIAL FOR TEACHERS TO
UNDERSTAND THE ROLE
THAT LANGUAGE PLAYS.
LANGUAGE ALLOWS US TO NAME OUR
EXPERIENCE, TO STAND BACK FROM
THAT EXPERIENCE, TO SEPARATE
OURSELVES FROM THAT EXPERIENCE,
IN A SENSE, BE OBJECTIVE, TO USE
OTHER PEOPLE'S PERSPECTIVES
AND OUR OWN TO OUTGROW
OURSELVES, AND I THINK IF YOU
REALLY UNDERSTAND THAT POWER OF
LANGUAGE AND LEARNING, YOU
HAVE A LOT OF FOUNDATIONS FOR
BUILDING A LITERACY PROGRAM.
IT MEANS YOU GOT TO START WITH
WHAT THE KID WANTS TO SAY,
NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR.
IT MEANS THAT YOU'VE GOT TO
ALLOW FOR CONVERSATIONS,
CONVERSATIONS THAT YOU MAY
NOT WANT TO EVEN HEAR OR HAVE
INVOLVED WITH, AND IT MEANS
THAT YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE THAT
KIND OF FORUM FOR THE
CURRICULUM TO BE NEGOTIATED
AS YOU'RE GOING ALONG.

Lynne says NEGOTIATED.
FOR SOME TEACHERS, THAT MAY
BE A CHALLENGE AND SOMETHING
WORTH THINKING ABOUT, BUT
WHEN YOU DESCRIBE THE READING
PROGRAM, SOME OF WHAT YOU
DESCRIBE IS SUPPOSED TO FIT IN
WITHIN A WHOLE LANGUAGE
PROGRAM, AND I'M INTERESTED.
THAT THERE ARE SEVERAL
DEFINITIONS OF A WHOLE
LANGUAGE PROGRAM.
FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT
IS AND ISN'T WHOLE LANGUAGE?

Jerome says WELL, I THINK ONE OF THE
PROBLEMS WITH DEFINING WHOLE
LANGUAGE IS THAT IT'S REALLY
A PHILOSOPHY, BUT I'LL GIVE YOU
SOME CHARACTERISTICS.

Lynne says OKAY.

Jerome says ONE, I THINK, IS
CHILD-CENTERED.
THAT MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO
BEGIN BY LETTING KIDS RESPOND
TO BOOKS.
SO IF I BRING IN A BOOK, NO
MATTER WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
ABOUT THE BOOK, I BEGIN TO
BUILD OFF OF WHAT YOU SAY
AND THE KINDS OF CONNECTIONS
YOU'RE MAKING.
EVEN THOUGH I MAY HAVE BROUGHT
IN THAT BOOK BECAUSE I THOUGHT
IT WAS JUST A LOVELY INSTANCE
OF FAMILY LIFE, IF YOU TELL
ME, "WELL, YOU KNOW, HOW COME
THEY RAN DOWN THE FENCE?"
I'LL START MY
DISCUSSION THERE.
OR IF YOU SAY TO ME, "OH, KEN,
THAT'S MY FATHER'S NAME,"
I'LL START THE
CONVERSATION THERE.
I THINK ONE OF THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF A WHOLE
LANGUAGE PROGRAM IS THAT WE
ALLOW KIDS TO ENTER LITERACY
THROUGH THEIR OWN PERSONAL
INVOLVEMENT IN LITERACY.
I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WE'VE
LEARNT IS THAT NOBODY BECOMES
LITERATE UNLESS THEY GET
PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN LITERACY.
AND WHATEVER THAT
PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT IS
WE BUILD OFF OF IT.
ANOTHER CHARACTERISTIC OF
WHOLE LANGUAGE IS THAT IT'S
LANGUAGE RICH; THERE'S LOTS OF
OPPORTUNITIES TO TALK, THERE'S
LOTS OF BOOKS AROUND, THERE'S
LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO WRITE.
AND A THIRD CHARACTERISTIC
WOULD BE THAT IT'S FUNCTIONAL,
THAT THEY'RE NOT SORT OF
DRUMMED-UP ACTIVITIES, BUT
THEY'RE ACTIVITIES THAT EVOLVE
RATHER NATURALLY FROM THE
CONTEXT OF PEOPLE
ACTUALLY HAVING SOMETHING
TO TALK ABOUT THAT THEY
THINK IS IMPORTANT TO
TALK ABOUT, USING WRITING
TO ACTUALLY GET THINGS DONE
THAT THEY THINK ARE IMPORTANT
TO GET DONE, NOT SORT OF
ASSIGNMENTS, SCHOOL
KINDS OF ASSIGNMENTS.

Lynne says DOES THIS TAKE A DIFFERENT
SORT OF FRAME OF REFERENCE
FROM WHERE TEACHERS WERE,
LET'S SAY, YESTERDAY AND WHERE
THEY'RE HEADING IN THE FUTURE?
BECAUSE THERE'S, TO ME, THERE'S
MORE CHALLENGE FOR THE TEACHER
TO SORT OF RELAX, LET THE
PROCESS TAKE PLACE, AND THERE'S
LESS CONTROL ON THE PART
OF THE TEACHER ON
WHAT'S GOING TO EVOLVE.

Jerome says YEAH, AND I THINK THERE'S A
WHOLE DIFFERENT NOTION ABOUT
WHAT CURRICULUM IS.
YOU KNOW, WE USED TO THINK
ABOUT CURRICULUM AS SOMEBODY
DECIDED WE SHOULD TEACH
SOMETHING, AND YOU COME IN AND
YOU TEACH IT TO THE KIDS.
I THINK IT ISN'T
NECESSARILY MORE RELAXED.
YOU STILL HAVE TO...
YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SENSE OF
WHAT IT IS THAT SCHOOL AND
EDUCATION IS ALL ABOUT, AND
YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND
WHAT IT IS WE'RE HERE TO DO.
I WORK IN A PROJECT WITH
TEACHERS IN INDIANAPOLIS,
AND ONE OF THE TEACHERS SAID TO
ME, "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SKILLS?"
YOU KNOW, "HOW DO YOU DO THE
SKILLS IN THIS PROGRAM?"
AND I SAID TO HER,
"I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?"
AND SHE SAID, "WELL, HOW DO I
GET ALL THE SKILLS IN THAT
I'M SUPPOSED TO TEACH?"
AND I SAID, "WHY DO YOU THINK
YOUR JOB IS TO TEACH SKILLS?"
AND SHE SAID, "WELL, THAT'S
WHAT THEY TEST AND THAT'S WHAT
THE WORKBOOKS SAY AND THAT'S
WHAT THE CURRICULUM GUIDE SAYS I DO," AND I SAID, "WELL, I
GUESS WE WANT YOU TO RE-THINK
THAT, YOU KNOW?
YOU'RE HERE TO HELP PEOPLE
BECOME READERS AND WRITERS.
THAT MAY OR MAY NOT INVOLVE
TESTING SKILLS OR TEACHING
SKILLS," AND SO IT DOES TAKE A
DIFFERENT KIND OF ORIENTATION.

Lynne says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE I
KNOW THAT YOU'VE SAID THAT WE
NEED TO RADICALLY REORGANIZE
THE WAY WE DO THINGS, THAT
IT'S A STUPID WAY THAT WE'RE
WORKING TODAY, QUOTE, UNQUOTE.

Jerome says QUOTE, UNQUOTE.

Lynne says QUOTE, UNQUOTE.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY
THAT WHEN YOU SAY
"RADICALLY REORGANIZING"?

Jerome says WELL, I THINK WE...
I THINK...
YOU GOT TO UNDERSTAND THAT I
LOOK AT THE WHOLE WORLD AS
CURRICULUM AND VARIOUS...
AND BY THAT, I MEAN I THINK
THE FUNCTION OF CURRICULUM
IS TO GIVE US PERSPECTIVE,
AND THAT'S WHY I THINK
CURRICULUM HAS GOT TO BE
IN KIDS' AND TEACHERS' HANDS.
THE KIDS AND TEACHERS NEED TO
KNOW WHY WHAT THEY'RE DOING IN
THE CLASSROOM, HOW THAT'S
GOING TO SUPPORT LITERACY
DEVELOPMENT, WHAT IT DOES TO
SUPPORT LITERACY DEVELOPMENT.
THEY'RE NOT JUST DOING...
TEACHING YOU THE SKILLS
BECAUSE SOMEBODY SAID TO TEACH
YOU THE SKILLS.
THEY HAVE A SENSE OF WHAT THIS
ACTIVITY THAT THEY'RE ENGAGED
IN, HOW THAT RELATES TO THEM
BECOMING A BETTER USER OF
READING AND WRITING, HOW
THEY'RE USING READING AND
WRITING TO LEARN, AND I THINK
A LOT OF WHAT WE DO IN SCHOOLS
IS JUST PLAIN NONSENSE.
IT'S BUSY WORK.
IN ACTUAL FACT, I OFTEN SAY TO
TEACHERS, "YOU KNOW, OKAY, YOU
NOW KNOW HOW TO WASTE KIDS'
TIME FOR THE WHOLE DAY.
YOU NOW KNOW HOW TO KEEP THEM
BUSY FOR A WHOLE DAY AND AT
THE END OF THE DAY, IT WAS
PROBABLY A WORTHLESS ACTIVITY.
YOU KEPT THEM
BUSY DOING NOT.
NOW THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO KEEP
THEM BUSY AND YOU DON'T NEED
TO WORRY ABOUT THAT, LET'S
THINK ABOUT WHAT SHOULD
WE DO IN THIS.

Lynne says I WANT YOU TO GET SPECIFIC.
I WANT YOU TO DESCRIBE WHAT
ARE THESE NONSENSE ACTIVITIES
THAT ARE GOING ON IN SCHOOLS?

Jerome says WORKBOOKS, WORKBOOK PAGES,
KEEPING A JOURNAL THAT THE KID'S
KEEPING BECAUSE THE TEACHER
SAID THAT FOR THEM TO DO.
THAT HAS NO CONNECTION IN
THEIR LIFE; JUST A WAY OF
KEEPING THE TEACHER OFF THEIR
BACK BECAUSE THEY'VE GOT
SOMETHING WRITTEN
IN THEIR JOURNAL.
STUDYING FACTS IN SOCIAL
STUDIES BOOKS SO THAT THEY CAN
PASS SOME INSIPID TEST, NOT
BECAUSE THEY'RE INTERESTED
IN ANYTHING.
ANY NUMBER... I MEAN,
I COULD GO ON AND ON.

Lynne says SURE.

Jerome says READING STORIES THAT THEY'RE
NOT INTERESTED IN BUT THAT
SOMEBODY IN TORONTO DECIDED
EVERY FOURTH GRADER SHOULD READ…

Lynne says SO WHAT WOULD YOU
DESCRIBE AS THE ALTERNATE?
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN A...

Jerome interrupts and says AS AN ALTERNATE CURRICULUM?

Lynne says AS AN ALTERNATE CURRICULUM,
WHAT DOES A DAY LOOK LIKE
WHERE SOMETHING IS
REALLY HAPPENING?

Jerome says WELL, I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE
KIDS COME IN, IDENTIFY WHAT IT
IS THAT THEY'D LIKE TO STUDY
AND LEARN ABOUT, AND I'D LIKE
TO SUPPORT THEM IN DOING THAT.
I GUESS MY PRESCRIPTION
IS REALLY ONE THAT
FRANK SMITH, FROM TORONTO,
A LONG TIME AGO SAID, AND
THAT IS YOU GOT TO FIND OUT
WHAT THE KID'S INTERESTED IN
AND SUPPORT THEM DOING IT.
NOW, IT'S TAKEN US A WHOLE
HECK OF A LONG TIME TO COME
AROUND TO HIM, BUT I THINK,
IN MANY WAYS, WHAT I'VE BEEN
ABOUT IN WORKING WITH TEACHERS
IS WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE
IN OPERATION?
WHAT DOES A TEACHER
DO THAT DOES THAT?
THE ONLY THING I GUESS I WOULD
CAUTION TEACHERS IS, WHILE I
THINK THAT'S THE BASIC FRAME,
IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT YOU DON'T
BRING IN BOOKS AND YOU READ TO
KIDS AND YOU OPEN NEW WORLDS
UP FOR KIDS OR YOU DON'T TALK
TO KIDS ABOUT THINGS THAT
YOU'RE INTERESTED IN THAT
THEY MIGHT POTENTIALLY
BE INTERESTED IN.
I DON'T THINK OUR CURRICULUMS
CAN ONLY BE A NEEDS CURRICULUM.

Lynne nods and says HMM.

Jerome continues YOU KNOW?
I THINK IT ALSO HAS TO OPEN UP
POSSIBILITIES AND OPEN UP NEW
WORLDS AND INVITE KIDS INTO
NEW WORLDS BUT, AGAIN, YOU
KNOW, IF I WANT TO INTRODUCE
SOMETHING EVEN LIKE THE
RAINFOREST, LET'S JUST TAKE A
TOPIC THAT WE'RE PRETTY SURE
THAT INNER CITY KIDS ARE NOT
GOING TO COME WALKING INTO
CLASSROOM AND SAY, "I'D LIKE
TO STUDY THE RAINFOREST TODAY,"
RIGHT?
BUT LET'S SAY THAT, FOR
SOME REASON, I HAVE A REAL
EXPERTISE IN AND INTEREST IN
RAIN; I THINK ONE OF THE KEY
QUESTIONS YOU AS A TEACHER
NEED TO ASK YOURSELF IS, IN
WHAT WAYS ARE MY KIDS GOING
TO CONNECT WITH THIS TOPIC?
HOW IS IT THAT THEY'RE GOING
TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS TOPIC?
WHERE IS THE ENTRY
POINT FOR THEM?
IT MAY BE THAT YOU DECIDE TO
DO SOMETHING WITH CHOCOLATE
AND FOODS THAT COME FROM
RAINFORESTS BECAUSE THEY MAY
BE ABLE TO CONNECT IN THAT
PARTICULAR WAY, BUT I THINK
WE HAVE TO...
WE HAVE TO BALANCE THOSE
THINGS AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER
WHAT THE KIDS THAT WE'RE WORKING
WITH AND BEGIN WITH MAKING...
AND IF THE KIDS DON'T MAKE A
CONNECTION WITH A RAINFOREST,
I THINK WE GOT TO JUST
FORGET RAINFORESTS.
I MEAN, I DON'T THINK THERE'S
ANY CONTENT THAT EVERY KID HAS
TO LEARN, AND RIGHT NOW, OUR
SCHOOLS ARE SET UP UNDER THIS
NOTION THAT YOU'VE GOT TO
LEARN THE SAME THINGS
I DO ABOUT SCIENCE, THE
SAME THING THAT I DO ABOUT
SOCIAL STUDIES, THE SAME
THING I DO ABOUT LITERATURE.
I JUST THINK THAT'S A CRAZY
SORT OF CONCEPT AND WE'VE GOT
TO GET RID OF IT.
IF THERE'S ANY UNIVERSAL IN
CURRICULUM, IT'S THAT PROCESS
OF INQUIRY.
THAT IS, I THINK KIDS...
WHAT MIGHT BE UNIVERSAL THAT I
THINK EVERY KID PROBABLY NEEDS
TO KNOW IS HOW TO FIND A
QUESTION, HOW TO GO ABOUT
GETTING ANSWERS TO THAT
QUESTION, HOW TO DO RESEARCH,
HOW TO USE OTHERS TO HELP HIM
OUT, GROW HIMSELF OR HERSELF
IN THAT PROCESS OF LEARNING.
BUT THERE'S NO...

Lynne interrupts and says THAT'S INTERESTING WHEN YOU
SAY THAT, AND I LISTENED TO
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING ABOUT
NEEDS-BASED, AND IT'S NOT
TOTALLY NEEDS-BASED.
ISN'T THAT A LOT OF WHAT
Dr. MALCOLM KNOWLES TALKED
ABOUT, OR TALKS ABOUT IN
ANDRAGOGY, IS HAVING A SENSE
OF THE PEOPLE HAVE SOME THINGS
TO BRING, THINGS THAT THEY
WANT TO LEARN, AND SOME OF THE
PRINCIPLES THAT REALLY BELONG
IN ADULT EDUCATION COULD BE
CONSIDERED IN THE EARLY YEARS?

Jerome says OH, YEAH.
I DON'T THINK YOUR PHILOSOPHY
OF EDUCATION CHANGES JUST
BECAUSE YOU CAN NOW WORK
WITH PEOPLE TALLER OR...
AND I DON'T THINK, FOR
EXAMPLE, YOU KNOW, RAMMING
CURRICULUM DOWN PEOPLE'S
THROATS WORKS BECAUSE THEY'RE
NOW IN THE SENIOR
HIGH, YOU KNOW?
IT'S NOT THAT I'M AGAINST
GREAT BOOK PROGRAMS AND THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS.
IT'S JUST THAT IF PEOPLE
REALLY FIND A BOOK THAT THEY
ACTUALLY CONNECT WITH BY
THEMSELVES, THERE'S A
POSSIBILITY THEY MAY SOMEDAY
GET INTERESTED IN GREAT BOOKS.
BUT YOU CAN'T START WITH GREAT
BOOKS AND SHOVE GREAT BOOKS
DOWN KIDS' THROATS.
I MEAN, I THINK...
I DON'T THINK YOU CAN REALLY
MAKE A LITERATE READER UNTIL
A KID HAS A GUT LAUGH
WITH A BOOK, YOU KNOW?
I'LL TELL YOU WHEN I GOT A
READER IS WHEN THE KID WANTS
TO STEAL A BOOK
AND TAKE IT HOME.

Lynne says MM-HMM.

Jerome continues WHERE THEY FEEL LIKE THEY'VE
FOUND A BOOK THAT'S SAYING
SOMETHING PERSONAL TO THEM,
THEN I'M ON MY WAY TO BECOMING
A READER, THEN I'M ON MY
WAY TO CREATING A READER.

Lynne says THAT'S ASSOCIATED WITH THE
INQUIRY MODEL THAT YOU SPEAK
OF AND STARTING THERE?

Jerome says YEAH, BECAUSE I THINK WE NEED
TO LET KIDS ASK THEIR OWN
QUESTIONS ABOUT BOOKS.
SEE, AGAIN, IN READING,
SO OFTEN, YOU KNOW,
I DON'T FINISH THE TELEPHONE.
YOU KNOW, I DON'T FINISH
DANIELLE STEEL AND CALL MY
FRIENDS AND SAY, "OH, ASK ME
10 HARD QUESTIONS," YOU KNOW?

[laughter]

Jerome says AND YET, IN SCHOOL, WE GIVE
THE IMPRESSION THAT THAT'S
WHAT A GOOD READER DOES.

Lynne laughs.

Jerome says I THINK WE READ THE BOOKS AND
WE MAKE OUR OWN CONNECTIONS
WITH BOOKS, AND I THINK WE
GOT TO LET KIDS ASK THEIR OWN
INQUIRY QUESTIONS
OUT OF BOOKS, TOO.
THAT MEANS THAT THEY MAY GET
SOME THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT
THAN YOU DID, BUT
IT'S WHY I THINK...
WHY I TRY TO, IN OUR
CLASSROOMS, WE ARE USING THE
NOTION OF A READERS' GUILD.
YOU READ A BOOK AND YOU
TALK WITH OTHER PEOPLE.
YOU GET LOTS OF DIFFERENT
PERSPECTIVES OF A BOOK.
YOU GET A LOT OF NEW INSIGHTS
INTO A BOOK FROM THAT
PARTICULAR DISCUSSION, BUT
EVERY READER HAS BROUGHT THEIR
OWN PERSPECTIVE, AND THAT
PERSPECTIVE THEN GETS EXPANDED
THROUGH CONVERSATION, AND
THAT'S WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE
SAY LEARNING IS
A SOCIAL EVENT.

Lynne says GEE, THAT'S...
YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING
BECAUSE SECONDARY STUDENTS
SOMETIMES COME OUT OF AN
ENGLISH CLASS AND THEY JUST
SAY, "IF I DON'T GIVE THE
ANSWER THAT IS EXPECTED,
THERE'S NO REASON TO GIVE
THAT ANSWER AT ALL BECAUSE
IT'S NOT EVEN VALUED."

Jerome says AND, SEE, PART OF I THINK
WHAT A TEACHER HAS TO DO...
YOU BRING UP A
REALLY GOOD POINT.
I THINK PART OF WHAT A TEACHER
HAS TO DO IS VALIDATE THE KINDS
OF RESPONSES KIDS HAVE TO BOOKS
THAT THEY'RE EDITING OUT.
IT ISN'T THAT THEY ARE NOT
RESPONDING TO BOOKS WHEN
THEY'RE READING; THEY JUST
DON'T THINK ANYBODY'S
INTERESTED IN THE KINDS OF
CONNECTIONS THEY'VE MADE
BECAUSE OF THE INSTRUCTIONAL
PROGRAMS THAT THEY'VE BEEN INTO.

Lynne says AND THE PROCESS THAT THEY'RE
GOING THROUGH AND IF
ANYBODY'S LISTENING.

Jerome says OFTENTIMES WHEN I'M WORKING
WITH PRIMARY KIDS, FOR
EXAMPLE, I'LL READ A BOOK AND
THE FIRST TIME, I'LL JUST
PROBABLY READ
"WHEN THE
RELATIVES CAME," ONE OF CYNTHIA
RYLANT'S BOOKS, AND THEN THE
NEXT DAY, I'LL READ IT AND
I'LL STOP AND I'LL HAVE A
PIECE OF LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE
PAPER TACKED UP, AND I'LL SAY,
"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT?"
AND I'LL JUST JOT IT
DOWN AND I'LL READ THE NEXT,
"WHAT WERE YOU
THINKING ABOUT?"
JOT IT DOWN, "WHAT WERE
YOU THINKING ABOUT?"
AND WHEN WE GET ALL DONE, I'LL
SAY, "WELL, TALK TO US ABOUT..."
YOU SAID THAT REMINDED
YOU OF YOUR FAMILY.
TALK TO ME ABOUT IN
WHAT WAYS DID IT?"
AND I THINK WHAT YOU'RE DOING
IS YOU'RE DEMONSTRATING TO THE
KIDS THAT THE KINDS OF THINGS
THAT ARE RUNNING THROUGH THEIR
MIND IS WHAT YOU'RE INTERESTED
IN TALKING ABOUT, IS WHAT THE
REAL EXPERIENCE OF READING IS
ALL ABOUT AND YOU DON'T WANT
THAT EDITED OUT.
THEN THE KIDS'LL COME UP TO
YOU ON THE PLAYGROUND AND SAY,
"WELL, YOU KNOW, I WAS
THINKING ABOUT SOME..."
AND I'LL GO ADD IT IN, AND I
THINK WE HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE
WHAT IT IS THAT GOOD READERS
DO, THE KINDS OF PROCESSES
THAT GOOD READERS ENGAGED
IN IN OUR CURRICULUM, AND I
REALLY BELIEVE THAT THAT'S
WHAT A GOOD LANGUAGE ARTS
PROGRAM DOES, IS IT SUPPORTS
THOSE FUNDAMENTAL PROCESSES.
WE'RE NOT HERE TO TEACH
PARTICULAR BOOKS.
WE'RE NOT HERE TO TEACH
PARTICULAR SKILLS.
WE'RE HERE TO SET UP AN
ENVIRONMENT THAT SUPPORTS
UNDERLYING PROCESSES
IN LITERACY.

Lynne says DO SKILLS FIT ANYWHERE
IN THE PROGRAM AT ALL?

Jerome says NOT IN THE...
YOU KNOW, NOT IN THE TRADITIONAL
WAY, AND THIS IS THE THING,
I THINK, THAT PEOPLE FIND ME
FRUSTRATING, THAT, YOU KNOW,
THEY FIND MY POSITION.
BUT, YOU KNOW, I THINK YOU GET
A GOOD VOCABULARY, I THINK YOU
LEARN A LOT OF SKILLS AS AN
ARTIFACT OF BEING A READER.
IT ISN'T...
SEE, THE PROBLEM IS, IS WE'VE
GOT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE.
WE THINK YOU HAVE...
I CALL IT PHONICATING.
I MEAN, IT'S MATCHING
LETTER SOUNDS AND STUFF.
THEY THINK YOU GOT TO BE ABLE
TO PHONICATE TO READ OR THEY
THINK YOU GOT TO BE ABLE TO
BREAK WORDS UP INTO LITTLE
WORDS TO READ OR
THEY THINK, WHATEVER.
I MEAN, GOD KNOWS WHAT
WE'VE COME UP WITH, 340.
SOME SCHOOL DISTRICTS
COME UP WITH 950 SKILLS.
I MEAN, THERE'S NO END TO
THE PROLIFERATION OF SKILLS.
I'M NOT DENYING THAT THOSE
THINGS DON'T GO ON IN THE
READING PROCESS, BUT THEY'RE
NOT NECESSARILY THE WAY YOU
GET INTO BEING A READER.
THOSE ARE ARTIFACTS OF
YOUR HAVING BEEN A READER.
I MEAN, FOR EXAMPLE, I TOOK A
LITTLE, TINY VIDEOTAPE OF SOME
KINDERGARTEN KIDS
IN NEW YORK CITY.
I DIDN'T EVEN TELL THE
AUDIENCE THAT ALL SEVEN
OF THESE KIDS WERE
SECOND LANGUAGE SPEAKERS.
AND WE JUST WERE DISCUSSING
SOME BOOKS AND I JUST SAID,
"LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENING,"
AND THEY WERE REAL...
I MEAN, THEY GOT INTO THE
BOOKS, THEY WERE TALKING
ABOUT ISSUES THAT WAS
IMPORTANT TO THEM.
THEY HAD LIVELY
SORT OF DISCUSSIONS.
THOSE KIDS ALREADY KNOW HOW TO
REALLY DO THE IMPORTANT STUFF
ABOUT READING; THAT IS,
USE READING AS A TOOL FOR
RE-THINKING ABOUT THEIR
WORLD, FOR HAVING
IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS.
THERE IS NO REASON FOR ME TO
WALK INTO THAT CLASS AND SAY,
"OH, TOO BAD, YOU'RE NOT A
READER BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SOUND
OUT THE WORDS ON THIS PAGE.
WHEN YOU DO, THEN YOU CAN..."

Lynne interrupts and says COME AND SEE ME.

Jerome says THEN WE CAN HAVE THIS
CONVERSATION OVER THE BOOK."
I CAN ALREADY TAKE THE WAY
KIDS ARE PERSONALLY INVOLVED
IN LITERATURE, I CAN INVITE
THEM FURTHER IN AND IN THAT
PROCESS WHAT WE FIND IS
OFTENTIMES FROM THOSE KINDS OF
BOOK DISCUSSIONS, THE KIDS ARE
ASKING TO TAKE THE BOOKS HOME.

Lynne says TEACHERS ARE PROBABLY GOING
TO BE SITTING HERE, YOU KNOW,
LISTENING AND SAYING, "BUT
WAIT A MINUTE, THERE'S
KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS WHO ARE
LOOKING AT THE BOOKS, YOU SAY
ENGLISH AS A SECOND
LANGUAGE STUDENTS.
HOW CAN THEY HAVE A
DISCUSSION ABOUT SOMETHING
THEY CAN'T READ?"

Jerome says BECAUSE IN... THEY
CAN COMPREHEND IT.
YOU CAN READ IT TO THEM, AND
THEY CAN UNDERSTAND IT.
THEY HAVE IDEAS ABOUT
REALITY AND NON...
IN ACTUAL FACT, YOU KNOW
WHAT'S FASCINATING ABOUT THAT
VIDEOTAPE, IS YOU
KNOW THAT THE CONVERSATION
THOSE LITTLE KINDERGARTENS
ARE HAVING IS OFTENTIMES A
LOT BETTER THAN THE
CONVERSATIONS YOU WOULD GET
IN A SECONDARY CLASSROOM
IN TORONTO IF YOU ASKED THEM
TO TALK ABOUT A
BOOK THEY JUST READ.

Lynne says I MUST ADMIT, I SAW A SEGMENT
OF THE VIDEOTAPE, AND I HEARD
THE CHILDREN TALKING
AMONG EACH OTHER OR AMONG
THEMSELVES, AND IT WAS
FASCINATING BECAUSE THEY
WERE REACHING INTO THEIR
LITTLE NUMBER OF YEARS OF
EXPERIENCE AND OFFERING WHAT
THEY BELIEVED AND WHAT THEY
THOUGHT, AND WHAT WAS
INTERESTING FURTHER IN THE
EVOLUTION IS THAT THE TEACHER
BECAME NOT A KEY ELEMENT
OF THE GROUP.

Jerome says WELL, AND I THINK THEY
LEARNING HOW TO DO THAT.
BUT, YOU KNOW, YOU GOT TO SAY,
WHEN YOU GO INTO A SECONDARY
CLASSROOM AND YOU SAY, "HAVE A
BOOK DISCUSSION," IT PROBABLY
WOULD NOT BE AS GOOD AS
THAT DISCUSSION WITH
THOSE KINDERGARTNERS.
AND YOU'D SAY, WHY?
IT CERTAINLY ISN'T THAT THESE
TWELFTH GRADERS ARE STUPIDER.
WHAT'S HAPPENED HERE?
HOW DID... HOW
COME THIS IS?
AND I THINK PART OF IT IS, IS
THE WAY WE'VE TAUGHT HAS GIVEN
PEOPLE VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL
NOTIONS ABOUT WHAT LITERACY IS,
AND WHAT I'M ABOUT IS SAYING,
GOD, LET'S LOOK AT TWO
MINUTES OF INSTRUCTION AND THE
POWERFUL MESSAGES WE CAN SEND.
IF WE START SENDING THOSE
MESSAGES REPEATEDLY, WE HAVE A
DIFFERENT FUTURE ON OUR HANDS
AND A DIFFERENT KIND OF HOPE.

Lynne says WHAT MESSAGES DID THE
TEACHERS TAKE FROM
THE DEMONSTRATION?

Jerome says DO YOU MEAN THE
ONES IN THE AUDIENCE?

Lynne says YEAH, MM-HMM.
NO, FROM TEACHERS THAT YOU'VE
MET AND YOU'VE SHOWN THE
SEGMENT OF THE VIDEOTAPE,
BECAUSE IT'S SORT OF
AN INQUIRY MODEL THAT
YOU PUT THEM THROUGH.

Jerome says YEAH.

Lynne says SO WHAT KIND OF MESSAGES?

Jerome says I THINK THEY BEGAN TO
SEE THAT WHAT READING...
IF YOU LOOK AT THE TEACHING
READING AS INQUIRY,
WHAT THAT MIGHT LOOK LIKE,
HOW MIGHT YOU SET UP A
CLASSROOM SO THAT YOU'RE
INVITING KIDS TO ASK
THEIR OWN QUESTIONS, TO
PURSUE QUESTIONS OF INTEREST?
HOW ARE YOU SUPPORTING
THAT PROCESS?
HOW ARE YOU MAKING SURE THAT
YOU'RE NOT SAYING THAT
READING IS SOME SORT
OF CLOSED ACTIVITY?

Lynne says DO YOU KNOW, IN ALL OF THIS,
THOUGH, THERE'S THE PEOPLE ARE
SITTING GOING, 'THIS IS VERY
NICE, IT MIGHT FEEL GOOD,
STUDENTS ARE HAPPY, BUT
HOW DO I EVALUATE THIS'?
BECAUSE THE ISSUE OF
EVALUATION IS THERE.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT,
BECAUSE I'M SURE THAT'S NOT
THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE
HEARD THAT QUESTION?

Jerome says I NEVER HEAR THAT QUESTION.

[laughter]

Lynne says REALLY?
YOU ALMOST HAD ME THERE.

Jerome says WELL, YOU SEE, I'M NOT SURE
THAT THAT'S GOING TO BE THE
FIRST QUESTION TEACHERS WILL
ASK, BECAUSE I THINK ONE OF
THE THINGS THAT I FIND OUT
IS THOUGH THAT TEACHERS...
AND I THINK WHERE THE TEACHERS
THAT THIS PROGRAM IS PROBABLY
GOING TO, WHO ARE OUT IN SMALL
COMMUNITIES ALL AROUND, FIND A
LOT OF SENSE IN THE KINDS
OF THINGS I'M SAYING.
BECAUSE THEY KNOW... ALL
OF A SUDDEN, THEY CAN SEE
HOW IT IS THAT THEY COULD MAKE
THEIR READING PROGRAM RELEVANT
TO THE KINDS OF DIVERSE
POPULATIONS OF KIDS
THAT THEY HAVE.
I MEAN, OFTENTIMES, I THINK
TEACHERS LOOK AT PLACES LIKE
TORONTO AND SAY, 'MY KIDS
DON'T HAVE ALL OF THESE'.
WE SOMETIMES THINK THAT THESE
INNER CITY KIDS IN TORONTO ARE
REALLY DEPRIVED, BUT I THINK
WHEN YOU'RE OUT IN LITTLE
RURAL AREAS, YOU LOOK AT THESE
AND SAY, 'MY KIDS DON'T HAVE
THESE KINDS OF EXPERIENCES.
I CAN'T DO THIS
KIND OF THING'.
WHAT I'M SAYING IS ALL KIDS
COME TO SCHOOL WITH LANGUAGE,
ALL KIDS COME TO
SCHOOL WITH EXPERIENCE,
AND WE CAN START THERE.
WHEREVER THOSE KIDS ARE AT
CAN BECOME THE STARTING PLACE,
AND I THINK THE SAME THING
IS TRUE WITH EVALUATION.
I THINK EVALUATION, FROM A
CURRICULAR PERSPECTIVE,
IS WHAT'S THERE.
I THINK YOU GOT TO BEGIN
BY SAYING TO YOURSELF,
WHAT ARE THE KIDS DOING?
WHAT KINDS OF CONNECTIONS
ARE THESE KIDS MAKING?
AND I THINK YOU ALSO
HAVE TO HAVE A SENSE...
I STARTED TALKING ABOUT THE
ROLE THAT LANGUAGE PLAYS
IN LEARNING.
I THINK YOU HAVE TO HAVE
A SENSE ABOUT WHAT IS THE
POSSIBILITIES OF A
LANGUAGE ARTS CURRICULUM.
WHAT DO WE MEAN WHEN WE...
WHAT KIND OF LITERATE PERSON
DO WE WANT TO CREATE?

Lynne says UNFORTUNATELY...

Jerome says AND WE HAVE TO ENVISION THAT,
AND THEN I THINK YOU EVALUATE
IN TERMS OF WHAT THE KIDS ARE
DOING, IN TERMS OF THE MODEL
YOU'VE GOT AND YOU SAY, OKAY,
IF THE KID CAN DO THAT, WHAT
KIND OF ENVIRONMENT CAN I
CREATE TO HELP THE KID MOVE
TO THE NEXT STEP?
BUT IT'S GOT TO BE VERY
MUCH OF AN INQUIRY MODEL.
THERE'S NO GUARANTEES THAT IF
YOU SET THIS NEXT ENVIRONMENT
UP, THE KID'S GOING TO GET
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE THAT
YOU THINK IS CRUCIAL
TO BECOMING LITERATE.

Lynne says WELL, I SENSE THE INQUIRY
THAT'S GOING ON, EVEN WITHIN
YOURSELF AS YOU QUESTION, YOU
KNOW, HOW DO I APPROACH
THIS FURTHER?
VERY, VERY BRIEFLY,
WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS?

Jerome says WELL, I THINK WE HAVE
DONE PARENTS A DISSERVICE,
AND I THINK WE REALLY GOT
TO REALLY RE-THINK PARENTS.
I THINK...
WE'RE EDUCATORS.
I THINK WE CAN'T JUST SAY,
WELL, MY PARENTS WANT SKILLS.
MY PARENTS WANT MY KIDS TO
PHONICATE, SO THEREFORE,
I'M GOING TO TEACH MY KIDS
TO PHONICATE, BARK AT PRINT.
I MEAN, I JUST...
I THINK WE HAVE BIGGER
RESPONSIBILITIES THAN THAT.
WHEN WE FIRST STARTED WORKING
WITH WHOLE LANGUAGE, WHAT WE
USED TO DO IS WE'D HAVE A
PARENT NIGHT AND WE'D BRING
THEM IN AND WE NOW SAY,
HERE'S WHAT RESEARCH SAYS AND
THAT'S WHY WE'RE SETTING UP,
NOW SHUT UP AND GO HOME.
AND I THINK THAT
THAT'S WRONG, TOO.
I THINK WHAT I'VE LEARNED OVER
TIME IS THAT PARENTS HAVE GOT
TO BE INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS,
AND WE GOT TO INVITE THEM IN.
I THINK WE HAVE TO INVITE
THEM IN, TO SIT IN ON BOOK
DISCUSSIONS, TO EXPERIENCE
WHAT HAVING A TALK ABOUT
A REAL BOOK IS ALL ABOUT.
I THINK WE NEED TO SAY, WHAT
DO YOU THINK LITERACY IS?
WHAT SHOULD I BE EVALUATING?

Lynne says YOU KNOW WHAT ALSO THEY CAN
DO, IS THEY CAN USE A PIECE OF
THIS PROGRAM AND LET PARENTS
HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY,
BECAUSE AS THE TEACHERS THAT
YOU TALK ABOUT MIGHT RELATE TO
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, I THINK
THE PARENTS MIGHT AS WELL.

Jerome says YEAH.
I THINK WE DON'T...
YOU CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO
TREAT THE PARENTS AS THE ENEMY.

Lynne says THANK YOU.

Jerome says OH, OKAY.

Lynne says THANK YOU, JEROME.
I APPRECIATE IT.

Music plays as the credits roll.

Watch: Jerome Harste