Category Archives: articles
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t
by Nate Silver
Audiobook from Audible.com
[#63 in my 75 book challenge]
With the 2012 election season in full swing, I decided it was time to read Nate Silver’s little book about predictions. I finished the book on November 1, just in time to have his ideas rattling around in my head while reading election polls in the days before the big election day. Apparently this Nate guy is a prediction guru and he’s quite trusted in these matters.
At over 500 pages, this is a pretty hefty work of non-fiction. Silver covers everything from the housing bubble and 9/11 to Vegas gambling and sports betting. He can get a little wordy, going very in-depth to each idea, but his thoroughness is part of his process. Silver argues that too many people make overconfident predictions, while his are more calculated and offer probabilites rather than outright “this or that” predictions. It’s more of a tortoise and the hare type situation, which is why I forgive him for his book being moderately long-winded at points.
He’s not boring — never boring — but do beware that is a fifteen hour listen. I enjoyed the audio format such a long book, and I recommend the audio for anyone who likes non-fiction in that format. I learned a lot of tidbits about the housing bubble, Bayes theorem of probability, and weather forecasting that I might even drop in casual conversation. Of course, his insight on the 2008 election polls was the most fascinating. You can check out his popular FiveThirtyEight blog for the New York Times to see what he’s said about the 2012 elections. I’m writing this at 4pm on November 6 (election day), and he’s predicted Obama to win the election tonight.
FINAL GRADE: C Y’all know I love pop non-fiction, and I enjoyed this book. It gets a C for being steady and well-researched and for entertaining me on the bus in the morning. I recommend it to fans of politics and good non-fiction. This is solid adult non-fiction, so I wouldn’t put the book in a middle school library, but I can imagine some high school students finding the information interesting. This read brings me up to nine out of ten books for my personal adult non-fiction challenge in 2012, which means I’m doing better on that challenge than I am on any of my others! Now I just need to read thirteen YA novels by December 31st…
Which adult non-fiction books would recommend I try next? Have you heard of Nate Silver, and did you consult his predictions for the 2012 election?
New teachers get a lot of teaching advice, and it can be very overwhelming. There are so many different “right” ways to teach. As a first year teacher, I felt like I had to do ALL the things I was told, even when specific pieces of advice clashed with other advice I’d gotten. Brain. Overload.
Over my time in middle schools, though, a few pieces of advice really stuck with me. I’ve worked in schools with difficult populations of students, so much of this advice relates to classroom management. But these following tidbits are the voices in my head when I’m trying to hold it together every day:
Every Kid Has Someone Who Loves Him (or Her)
This one is probably the most meaningful to me personally. We all have our difficult students. Those students who make us want to grab a stiff drink or hide under a table. The smart-alack, the under-achiever, the bully, the mean girl, the kleptomaniac, the clingy kid, the whiner… the list goes on and on. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have at least one kid that really drove us nuts. However, each of these kids has someone looking out for that child’s best interest. It might be mom, dad, big sibling, little sibling, another teacher, grandparent, or social worker, but there is someone.
This advice works for me in two ways. First, it reminds me that the kid is lovable. It reminds me to look for the good in the kid. As the teacher, it is my job to be on that list of people who love and care about the kid. Second, it reminds me to watch my actions and words. It’s easy to be snippy or get short with a kid, but I imagine what the parent would think of the situation and I hold my tongue.
Everyone Is Just Doing The Best They Can
Kids, teachers, administrators, and parents are all trying their best at life. If they aren’t trying their best to make my classroom run smoothly, it’s probably because they are trying to balance other things. Very few people walk around trying to be bad teachers, trying to fail, or trying to be mean for no reason. Some people may not know how to handle all the things on their plates. This article sums up this particular piece of advice: We’re All Doing The Best We Can.
This advice works for me when I am mad at someone or think they are lazy. I mostly turn to it when dealing with my fellow teachers. I don’t always understand the actions of kids, teachers, administrators, or parents, but I try to remember that I don’t know their whole story. I don’t know what strategies or resources they have for dealing with difficulties. I hope that other people extend the same courtesy to me when I’m struggling with something.
Don’t Smile Until Christmas
So the statement itself is an exaggeration. I smile a lot. But the general idea from this advice is that a teacher should start the school year out tough, and then ease up if the kids can handle it. It is far more difficult to get more strict as the year goes on.
I work with middle school kids, who are always trying to test rules (even the good ones) and learn boundaries, so this advice is crucial. Maybe teachers who work with different populations of kids feel differently about it, but I learned the hard way that I need to lay down the law early, and consistently, in order to create a safe environment for learning.
The Best Classroom Management Plan is a Good Lesson Plan
A good lesson plan isn’t a magic bullet, but it is hard to have a well-managed classroom without good planning. When I’m flying by the seat of my pants, there is far more room for things to get out of control. When I know what I’m doing, have it written down, and have the materials ready, I can focus on the details of my classroom. Every lesson plan is flexible, but having half a plan is not going to go over well.
My favorite part of being a school librarian was that I had more time to collaborate with teachers and create my lessons. Everything was always well-prepared, and it showed in the behavior of the kids and the learning that took place. That made it really clear to me how important this step is. I wish it were as clear to administrators and policy-makers, who keep taking away planning time and adding more face-to-face time with kids. A teacher who is responsible for face-to-face time with kids for 5-7 hours each day and is expect to teach actual lessons for the majority of that time simply doesn’t doesn’t have enough time during the scheduled work day to prepare, plan, create, assess, and do all of the other things we are prepared to do as professionals. That’s why teachers work 10-40 hours a week beyond their scheduled time — for free.
I feel very strongly about this particular topic, as you can see. I think it’s a key point to both improving professionalism and student learning.
Don’t Let ‘Em See You Cry
You will cry during your first year. And probably your second. That’s okay. Let it out. But unless it’s the very last day of school and you are going to miss your babies when they move on to the next grade, don’t let them see you cry. This isn’t always possible, but try to keep those emotions away from your students.
Teaching is like acting, and you are playing a character. When I’m at work, I’m playing the role of Miss Anderson, and Miss Anderson is somewhat different person from Tara. Tara was a struggling young teacher trying to learn the ropes of the professional world, balance relationships with work, and deal with some big reality checks. Miss Anderson was there to teach the kids.
I cried once in front of my students after a conversation with an administrator. I had just come out looking bad in a very big misunderstanding (he later apologized), and I was overwhelmed with the unfairness of it all. Once I start crying, I can’t stop…and I had to go back to my classroom. I think it would have been easier to force myself to not have cried in the first place than it was to deal with my students questioning the tears. I learned the hard way to avoid crying in front of my kids at all costs.
The crying rule also applies to other intense emotions: anger (no cursing!), jealousy, and stress. I’m sure there are teachers who can let it all hang out and be “real” with their kids, but it’s best to get firm grounding as a teacher before you try to do so.
This post is posting on my very last teacher workday of my very last year as a middle school teacher, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Though I would never go back to my first year (it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done), I have learned much as a public school teacher. I’ll miss being part of the school staff and working so closely with the kids, making an impact on their lives. What teaching advice has stuck with you over the years? What teaching advice did you ignore? What lessons have you learned?
I’ve been an educator for five years, which means I have tenure. We actually don’t call it tenure — we call it Career Status — but the basic idea is still the same. In talking with non-educators and educators alike, and also in listening to, watching, and reading various media, it appears that a lot of people are really confused about what tenure actually is and what it isn’t.
There’s a misconception that tenure means a teacher can’t be fired. They believe that tenure laws allow bad teachers to keep on being bad teachers and nobody can do anything about it because they are floating on a fluffy cloud of protected, elite status. Apparently teachers just work really hard for four years until they are handed a golden key and then they are untouchable.
All tenure really does is allow teachers the protection of due process when their job is on the line.
The Track to Tenure/Career Status
(This is all based on how this works in my district, but the general process is the same across the country)
Years 1-4(ish) — For the first 2-4 years of a teacher’s career, he or she is hired on a probationary status. The teacher’s contract is renewed for each year and the teacher can be let go for any reason. There is support given, including a mentor and professional development (whether these actually help is a different story). Probationary teachers are also reviewed more often. In my district, probationary teachers have four observations and follow up reviews each year. These can include a combination of announced and unannounced observations, peer and administrator reviews, a self-evaluation, and formative and summative evaluations.
After four years — The teacher is given career status/”tenure” if she or he has had good performance reviews. Teachers may become probationary for a single year if they move to a new school in the district, or for several more years if they move to a new district or state.
What Tenure Is
Tenure status essentially means that a specific process must be followed to fire a teacher. There must be a specific reason for firing the teacher, documentation must be provided, and a hearing must be held with the school board.
Tenure protects the teacher from being fired without reason. For example, a principal cannot fire an experienced teacher, who makes more money, simply to hire a cheaper new teacher. They can’t be fired based on their political beliefs, sexual orientation, disagreeing with administrators, personal conflicts, or any other arbitrary reason unrelated to job performance.
Tenure does not protect teachers who break the law or codes of conduct, teachers who have poor job performance over time without improvement, or teachers who fail to show up for work on a regular basis. Essentially, tenure protected teachers before employment laws protected all employees, but now they are essentially the same thing.
Why Tenure Gets A Bad Reputation
Tenure gets a bad reputation because bad teachers are still in the classroom. The general public, as well as educators, wants to believe that all teachers could, would, and should be GOOD teachers and all bad teachers should be fired. This is simply not possible — in ANY profession. I would ask professionals of any profession to think about your coworkers and how hard it is to fire an employee at your company. Do people just get shifted around? Does it take six to twelve months to get a person out? Does a manager not see the whole picture of the employee’s performance? The same things happen in education.
Bad teachers are still in the classroom because:
- There are varying definitions of “bad” — A parent may believe a teacher is bad because of issues arising with an individual child. The parent perception of this teacher may be negative, but that does not mean the teacher is a “bad” teacher. There is no such thing as a perfect teacher.
- “Bad” teachers get shuffled around — This happens either because the teacher voluntarily moves around, or because the administration finds excuses to move the teacher out. It takes a while to realize a teacher isn’t performing, and sometimes the teacher has moved on before their poor performance can be documented.
- Due Process takes time — A principal can’t walk in an see a teacher having a bad day and immediately terminate the teacher. The “bad” teaching must occur over time consistently and be documented. The teacher must be notified and allowed to attempt improvement. Teaching is a profession of constant learning, and we have to allow for that.
- The evaluation tools lower the bar — Sometimes the evaluation instruments are too easy. Under these, everyone looks like a good teacher. No one ever gets an “unsatisfactory.” Many school districts have changed their tools to make them stronger and more accurate.
- Administrators are too lenient — Whether from lack of knowledge or assertiveness, some administrators mark teachers as “proficient” even when they aren’t. They also may not follow through on the process of eliminating a bad teacher because it’s too time consuming, they aren’t organized, or they fear the repercussions.
- It’s hard to know what a teacher really does — The only people who really know if a teacher is good or bad are the students and the teacher himself/herself, and both of these are biased. We rely on administrator observations, both formal and informal, to make “objective” decisions about teacher performance. Some teachers teach differently when they know they are being watched…which is a very small percentage of the time. Test scores and grades can’t even tell the whole story.
When “bad” teachers are still in the classroom, the public thinks these folks are being protected by tenure. That simply isn’t the case. There are many other factors in place. Teachers are subject to judgement from such a variety of sources with completely different agendas (students, parents, the public, policy makes, administrators, and other teachers) that the definition of “good” and “bad” is so subjective, anyway. Tenure isn’t a matter of protecting bad teachers, but rather a manner of protecting good teachers from unnecessary termination.
Overall, tenure in K-12 education seems to be a dated concept. Employment laws protect many folks from discrimination, and civil suits can be filed. But I don’t think the system is doing any harm at this point, either. Tenure is not keeping anyone in a job who doesn’t deserve it, those people would still be there without the tenure system due to the reasons listed above.
What Tenure Is — And What It Is Not (Article from NEA Today)
Pros and Cons of Teacher Tenure from ProCon.org
Nobody Deserves Tenure by Chester E. Finn, Jr. from Education Next
I read a lot but I don’t just read books. I read a lot of great stuff from my fellow bloggers, tweeps, and my fabulous Facebook friends. I’m going to pass it along to you in digest form. Here’s what you need to know this week from the interwebs:
- I’ve talked about NaNoWriMo, but have you heard of PiBoIdMo? It stands for Picture Book Idea Month. Nine-year-old Erik, from This Kid Reviews Books, wrote a guest post for PiBoIdMo describing what he learned from the challenge about the work that goes into creating a picture book. I highly suggest you check out his guest post AND his blog. That kid has a bright future ahead of him!
- Any avid reader would appreciate the Bookfessions tumblr page.
- Not library related, but this post on The Single’s Guide to Happiness was interesting. She’s inspired me to start going to the movies by myself.
- I’m always interested in banned books. This awesome infographic shows the top ten challenged books of 2010 and the reasons why they were challenged.
- Some of my favorite YA authors have been passing around a pair a pajama jeans, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-style. They call it the Twitterhood of the Butt-Lifting Pajants. You can follow them on Facebook.
- A school board member took one of the standardized tests given to students in his district and didn’t do well. I’ve always said someone should do this. The discussion of what this means was fascinating and looked at it from a different angle than I would have thought, and I was impressed.
- If you are a Harry Potter fan, you should read this list of 50 things we learned from Harry Potter.
- The guys at Unshelved (a library web comic) took on Beauty Queens by Libba Bray for their Unshelved Book Club (in comic form)
So that’s what I’ve found this week around the internets. Happy Sunday!
Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds
by Scott Berkun
[#58 in my
52 60 book challenge]
I might be slightly ridiculous at times. I dance around my media center, make stupid jokes, have Justin Bieber posters in my office, buy everything in pink, and watch waaaaaay too much reality television. However, at my heart I am a very logical, driven person. Everything I do is purposeful, even if I try to make life fun. Scott Berkun’s book speaks to that side of my personality. I’d like to give one big Jersey Shore-style fist pump to Scott Berkun for being logical, objective, driven, intelligent, humble, and awesome.
Mindfire is a collection of thirty essays organized into three categories: Gasoline, Sparks, and Fire.The essays were all previously published on his website, but he has handpicked from his many other essays to create this thematic collection. I’ve read short stories and non-fiction before, but this is my first experience reading an essay collection. Based on Berkun’s praise of essay collections at the end of the book, I may read more in the future.
He won me over with the first essay, “The Cult of Busy.” It’s like this man is in my head! Busy people like to say and believe that they must be more important because they are so busy, but sometimes it actually means they are not very efficient. I see this all the time in the education field! We’ve got these martyr teachers who stay at work until seven every evening and work on stuff all weekend and all break and all summer and never have enough time and are sooooo busy. I leave every day at 4:00 because I either A.) use my time wisely while I’m at school or B.) determine that some tasks are not important enough to spend my time on. Less busy people are not necessarily doing less and we certainly are not less important. I wish I had a copy of “The Cult of Busy” to hand to every person who ever snidely told me, “I wish I could leave every day at 4:00. Must be nice.”
It is nice. You should try it.
Other great essays included:
- “There are two kinds of people: complexifiers and simplifiers”
- “How to give and receive criticism”
- “On God and integrity”
Logic and objectivity run through each of the essays, but those three really stood out in terms of personal value. Some of the essays, though good, didn’t really hit close to home for me because they were about worlds that I don’t really live in. I guess they are applicable to education, but not as much is they would be applicable in the business world.
Final Grade: A-
It would be hard for a non-fiction book to reach a full A, but this one got bumped up from a B+ because of the sheer number of times I chanted, “AMEN! For real!” to myself while reading it.
Last week, NPR’s This American Life featured an episode on middle school. Since middle school is near and dear to me (it’s my life’s work, I guess), I loved the episode and thought I’d share. Click the photo to visit the site and listen to the episode:
Act 2: NPR corespondents attend a middle school dance. Brought up fun mental pictures of Ira Glass at a school dance, even though he was not the reporter that did this segment.
Act 4: Producer Jonathan Menjivar visits a middle school TV news studio for a week and lets the kids report on what they think is news (hilarious!).
Act 6: A teacher at a KIPP school with 91% Free/Reduced lunch students discusses harnessing the power of peer pressure for good when dealing with a difficult student. This act, to me, was most like my every day experiences at my school.
When I talk to people about AR (Accelerated Reader), they either love it or hate it. I definitely agree with the latter. Every time I think I have effectively stamped out use of AR in my school, it rears its ugly little head again and I am forced to fight another round of the battle. It’s tiring, but I must stand on the front lines for literacy!
What is AR?
If you’ve never heard of AR, you either live under a rock or you haven’t be anywhere near an elementary/middle school in over fifteen years. AR is a program that quizzes children on books they have read to award points for the book. The child must read a book on his or her approved, tested reading level. The quizzes focus on small details of the book, in order to test if the child has actually read the material. Points are awarded based on how many questions the child gets right, and they receive zero points if they fail to answer 70% of the questions correctly. Many schools award prizes to top readers. In addition, they often let children use points to “shop” at an AR store for toys and supplies or other rewards. Many classroom teachers required minimum numbers of AR points for grades in the classroom.
The folks that love AR have good intentions. They believe that AR pushes reluctant readers to read and rewards regular readers for their efforts. I agree that there are some children out there who are motivated by AR and it changes their lives. Teacher like the ease of record keeping: the AR program lets kids take the quizzes and reports all points to the teacher. Teachers have these great stories about kids devouring books and racking up points. They love the feeling that kids are getting excited about reading (joy!).
However, if we look deeper into AR we see that there is more to the story…and it ain’t pretty.
Why It Fails Our Students
AR is, by its very nature, a system of providing extrinsic motivation and extrinsic rewards for reading. A very, very expensive system with very, very expensive rewards. Though I think intrinsic motivation is fabulous and preferred in most situations, I do recognize that extrinsic motivation is sometimes necessary. But do we really want children to read just because the get a cheap trinket? And can we really afford to keep doing so in this economy?
AR is expensive and time consuming. First, a school must buy the program and pay to support it each year. Then the school must buy a test for every library book purchased. At around $2.99 a pop, these tests don’t come cheap. For the price of five AR tests, an additional fiction book could be purchased for the library instead. The rewards are expensive, too. I did AR for one year, and it ate up a lot of my (very valuable) time. I had to put reading-level dots on the books, manually enter the 6th graders into the program, collect donations and supplies for the AR store each semester, shut down the library to run the store for six instructional days, and keep track of all the kids points from purchases.
But even if AR were free, the program still doesn’t work. It provides a short-term incentive to read, which disappears as soon as the reward is no longer available. Yes, kids may read more to rack up points…but they don’t enjoy it more and they don’t become life-long readers. And let’s not even talk about the cheating! I have heard stories from my friends about how they cheated by taking tests for friends, watching the movie for a popular book, or looking up the test answers online. One friend even said he cheated his way to the #1 spot for points in the school! Even though it’s not technically cheating, I also used to see students cruising the stacks for the books with the highest point values. If I had a dollar for every kid who picked up Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix without reading the first four novels in the series, I’d have enough money to take myself to a nice dinner.
What bothers me most about AR is the insistence that kids read books on their reading level. It SUCKS to be restricted in reading choices. Think about it: if you were told, right now, that you could only read books on your reading level, would you be happy? I’d be stuck reading dissertations all day because I doubt there is any fiction on my reading level readily available to me. Most popular fiction is written on a fifth or sixth-grade reading level. For my middle school students, that meant that the reading pickins’ were slim. Even for an elementary school student, the selection would be about 12% of the entire library. I see teachers tell kids every day that they can’t read a book because it’s too easy or too hard. These kids end up picking something less interesting, and then trudging through it to earn their points. Is that really how the world works?
Think about why you read. Do you read because you get tangible rewards? Probably not. You read because you need to or want to learn something for yourself or a class. You read because your friend recommended a great book. You read because you want to read the book before you see the movie. You read because you’re in a book club. You read to escape, to heal, to experience, and to pass time. We need to work on taking the time and thought to encourage the same for children by modeling our love for reading, providing access to varied and intriguing reading material, and making reading a more social experience. We need to make sure that the kids can read, and work on basic skills if they can’t. Dangling a carrot is not the solution.
Don’t Just Take My Word For It
Read the research on AR and reading motivation if you want to see for yourself. I feel like a broken record every time I say, “AR is not a research-based strategy.” Here’s my evidence to support my claim:
and a few more, from the general web:
Apparently Amazon is trying to create a service that will be “Netflix for Books.” As both an e-reader enthusiast (remember how much I love my Nook?) and a Netflix subscriber, I am thrilled.
I love Netflix because I don’t like to own my movies. I like to watch movie or series of a show once and be done with it. Netflix lets me watch a great variety of movies without breaking the bank. $8 a month is a fair price for just the priviledge of viewing unlimited movies without ever owning a physical product.
Of course, there are several movies and TV shows that I love enough to buy. I own many seasons of my favorite shows (30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, The L Word, and How I Met Your Mother) and I usually buy movies that I love (Harry Potter, Love Actually, The Secret Garden, etc.). I’m happy with this system because it works for me. I can have my cake and eat it, too.
That’s how I feel about a subscription service for e-books. If I love a book, I will buy it in a heartbeat. However, I am not typically a re-reader of books. A subscription service would allow me to read more books each month on my Kindle (yes, I’d have to buy a Kindle) for a price much cheaper than buying the books outright. I don’t want to own most books and I don’t mind not being able to resell the book if the price is low to being with.
As it stands right now, I consider e-books a treat because of the price. I’m still reading books from my own library and the public library. I far prefer reading digital books over print books, so I can’t wait to see what Amazon does with their service…if it even actually happens any time soon!
by Tina Fey
[#26 of my 52 Book Challenge. I'm halfway!]
Bossypants is hard to catergorize as a book. It’s not a memoir, but it’s close. Not that I’ve even been able to make it through a memoir — which is how I know this isn’t one. Tina simply talks about her life, in chronological order, telling whatever she feels is necessary/interesting/people want to know.
What makes this book magical is the fact that it’s Tina Fey. I love Tina Fey. She’s my hero. She makes the sexy librarian thing cool again. And I loved her even more after learning more about how she got to where she is. Everything from her awkward childhood to her decision not to breastfeed is described with Fey’s trademark comical tone, but I also understood that she is serious. Fey is serious about battling sexism in comedy, being successful, and having it all, but she does it all while not taking herself too seriously.
I don’t know what more I can say about Bossypants other than that you should read it. The sections on “Peeing in Jars with Boys,” “30 Rock: An Experiment to Confuse Your Grandparents,” and “My Honeymoon, or a Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Either” alone make the book worth it. I learned so much about Fey that I didn’t know before, and it all made me like her even more. In fact, I spent much of yesterday watching documentaries about the Second City improv group, along with various episodes of 30 Rock and SNL that Fey mentioned directly in the book. Apparently I can’t do anything halfway (as we evidenced with my obsession with Mt. Everest media after reading High Crimes).
In my research on the book, I also happened to find this lovely review by Janeane Garofalo that you should check out. Janeane is one of my other favorite female comedians, so I enjoyed what she had to say about Fey. And now I’m off to go find a good fiction book to get into…I made a promised to quit reading non-fiction, but I obviously have not followed through on that very well. I hang my head in shame.
The most recent book in the news for banning is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (#7 in my 2010 50 Book Challenge). Apparently public schools in the state of Washington have pulled the book from the ninth-grade reading list because of gratuitous language and descriptions of sex. Meghan Cox Gurdon (whose angry article I discussed in this post) cited The Absolutely True Diary as being a book with a “hideous distorted portrayal of what life is.” To all of them I say: Bull. Shit.
First of all, none of the members for the Richland school district that banned the book had even read it. Yes, this is a book that paints a pretty grim picture of life. But, HELLO, we’re talking about kids living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Life there is pretty grim. There’s poverty, racism, alcoholism, death, and bad language all over the place. Anyone who doesn’t believe this is reality on many Indian reservations is kidding themselves. Not to mention that the story is semi-autobiographical. Let’s ask Alexie what life really is, hmm Ms. Gurdon?
The only thing that would make this a difficult book for me to read with ninth grade students would be the one or two mentions of masturbation. But I think I would get over that and teach the book anyway because of the message in the story and the way that it’s told. Alexie has captured the voice of a fourteen-year-old boy incredibly well (thus the mentions of masturbation and profanity — any of us that have met fourteen-year-old boys know this is realistic!). Alexie’s main character, Junior, is funny. He draws pictures, Wimpy Kid-style, in his journal. Kids are pulled in with the humor of the story in order to see the bigger messages in the novel. It is a great story for introducing a study of Native American Reservations, poverty, racism, and trying to overcome all of these.
Unfortunately, we cannot censor reality as easily as we can censor books. And the painful parts of reality cannot be changed unless people are aware that there is even a problem. Banning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian only sends us backward into believing that the issues on our Native American Reservations don’t exist. So I offer up another virtual fist-bump to Sherman Alexie for telling his story and to all the teachers, librarians, parents, and students who not only read the story but pass it along and/or share it with others. I leave you with a drawing from the book, where Junior describes the difference between his two alter-egos: