Friday, August 28, 2009

Why I'm Sad About the End of Reading Rainbow

Earlier today I listened to this NPR report about the end of the PBS children's program Reading Rainbow. And I'm not kidding when I tell you I was on the verge of tears.

Reading Rainbow will live on for a long time on DVD and I'm willing to bet there are copies of it at your local library right now. So I'm not so much upset that my children won't ever see Reading Rainbow again, I'm upset because of the shift in priorities that means Reading Rainbow isn't considered a good use of money any longer.

Simply put Reading Rainbow wasn't in the business of teaching the fundamentals of reading, it existed to help children learn to love reading - to take joy in reading books, and in thinking about books, and in making connections between what they read and the world around them - all of which are wonderful, important skills a reader should have. But they aren't phonics, and they aren't spelling...

For me, today, this strikes me as one small example of what I fear we're doing in our schools, which is to take the joy out of the equation. Standardized testing has put a great deal of fear and stress into the mix for children and teachers alike. While I know there are many wonderful schools and teachers who are still helping children love learning I think the current educational environment makes it more difficult for them to do so. We get so caught up in the results that we aren't taking enough time to be attentive to the process.

Of COURSE I think it is important for children to know how to read, I'm not denying that at all. I just think it is unfortunate when learning to read has to come at the expense of loving to read.

I'm aware that I'm grossly oversimplifying here. I wish I could articulate my point more efffectively.


Good-bye Reading Rainbow. I'll miss you.

(I love this picture of Harper and Erin's Calum from our recent visit. And speaking of our visit, Erin took the opportunity to interview me while I was there. Her interviews are hilarious so you might want to check it out!)


desperate housewife said...

Oh, I loved Reading Rainbow when I was a kid! That IS sad.

Giselle said...

A-men. To all of it.

I can't tell you how often strangers come up to me in public and ask how I "made my son" do math and reading at such a young age.

I always say the same thing...we just encourage what he finds interesting. We don't worry about the end result or where it will lead. Because I'm like you...I just want him to find learning fun and interesting. 2 years ago it was geography. This month it is crocodiles. This week it is a book from the library that has no words...we aren't practicing reading, but Lordy, have we had fun making up stories for the book.

I wish there were more people making legislation with priorities like you. ;)

Sarah said...

AMEN!!! I'm a sixth grader reading teacher and I couldn't agree more. We need to teach the littles to love reading and be entertained by stories, which is what made Reading Rainbow so great. The phonics, spelling, etc. will come later.

Erin said...

Ah, the good ol' days. Although, is this a bad time to confess that I didn't like Reading Rainbow when I was a kid? (See also: I didn't like READING when I was a kid) (See also: I would probably LOVE Reading Rainbow for my OWN kids now).

That last photo is HILARIOUS. Calum's crossed knee and Harper's obviously sincere effort to listen to his "reading" are priceless.

Mommy Daisy said...

I hear EXACTLY what you're saying/trying to say. I have lost faith in some of the educational programs because of standardized testing too. I suppose that's partially (maybe more than I realize) why I am thinking so strongly about home schooling. It's too bad about Reading Rainbow. Let's hope something comes in to take it's place for what it was some day.

Love your interview at Erin's blog. Fantastic!

Nowheymama said...

Oh NO! I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope PBS keeps playing reruns at least, like they do for Mr. Rogers.

Astarte said...

I was never terribly into RR, and my kids never liked it, either, but I always thought it was a great show to have on TV, especially for parents who maybe didn't have time to read to their kids, or couldn't speak English.