Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter Johnston (Chapters 7-9)
After reading Johnston's book, Choice Words, there was no question as to whether I would read his latest book, Opening Minds. As I finished the final chapter, I thought about how reading this book has really opened my mind in terms of the kinds of conversations that can and should be taking place in our classrooms and the learning those conversations can lead to. As Johnston states, "Given what we know, failing to attend to students' civic, social, and broader cognitive development in school is not only academically shortchanging children, it is criminal." (p.124)
As I think about opportunities in my classroom, the first thought that comes to mind is teachable moments. Like most teachers, I try to take advantage of the teachable moments that occur naturally in the course of a day. They don't always happen at the most convenient time, but they are great moments for teaching and learning. "It might be better to view these interruptions as opportunities for building a moral compass and both the tools and inclinations for social problem solving." (p.91) I want to embrace these moments and points of conflict as they occur. The great thing is, I don't have to plan for them, all I have to do is notice them and use them as opportunities for us (our classroom community) to learn.
I want to remember that social problems offer: (p.91)
- concrete spaces for understanding different perspectives
- understanding and managing emotions
- learning strategies for negotiating social conflict
- asserting a commitment to fairness
- opportunities to make clear that we value considerate, empathetic behavior, and
- disapprove of non-considerate behavior
- Why do you think that?
- Could you explain?
- I agree because...
- I disagree because...
- I agree, and...
- I have evidence
Books as Vehicles