Headmaster Blog for September 11, 2013: D.E.A.R. – Drop Everything And Read

D.E.A.R.
Drop Everything And Read

Summit is a book-friendly school! There are alarming statistics that suggest that well over half of our population (excluding pre-school children), are functionally illiterate, and the trend is downward. There are several factors that contribute to this, not least of which is the emergence of the internet. Prominent Christian thinker and author, Leonard Sweet, says that we are in the middle of a major phase-shift on this point. According to Sweet it was 2005 when more people in this country went to Google than to the printed page for information. This despite the fact that over 90% of the world’s literature and information is still bound between the covers of books. Western culture is leaving the Gutenberg revolution behind for the mega-pixel Google revolution (indeed, Sweet calls this new generation “Googlies”) Nothing wrong with this except for the fact that technology intended to be a tool too often becomes a crutch. Google is image-based and pictorial. Books are language-based and propositional. The former is right side of the brain while the latter is left side of the brain. Using Google at the expense of good books leaves an entire sphere of the brain, a way of thinking, uncultivated. Much of the technology we enjoy is a great blessing­ (and I have welcomed the emergence of books in digital format; I own a Nook), but, with few exceptions, Google is no substitute for a good book.

In our home there was a standing rule: you don’t see the movie until you have read the book. There is nothing like the Technicolor and surround-sound of one’s imagination as readers move through the adventure and romance of a well-spun yarn told by a master storyteller. We rob our children if we don’t usher them into this wonder of re-thinking someone else’s world in their imaginations. I am continually surprised (and grieved) when I talk with children who have no idea that the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were first of all masterpieces of a genre of literature (fantasy) before they were ever movies.

Dedicated quiet reading time is part of the fabric of every class at Summit. We have also chosen to have a reading period between the students’ dismissal and pickup, and we are calling it D.E.A.R., Drop Everything And Read. As parents please ensure that your child has a “DEAR” book in their backpack. While this will be leisure reading (not assigned), the books need to be stories; no Calvin and Hobbes, Comics, Legos catalogues, etc. When you arrive to pick up your child at their classroom your child will be reading quietly. We want to buy that time (carpe momentum, “seize the moment”).

As a footnote, it is not just our progressive illiteracy as a culture that is alarming, but also some of the books being marketed to those of our children who do read. Adjoining this Newsletter is an article from Imprimis, the periodical from Hillsdale College. In this summary of her speech, The Case for Good Taste in Children’s Books, Meghan Cox Gurdon (children’s book reviewer for The Wall Street Journal), argues for vigilance and discernment on behalf of parents’.

Summit Bulletin Board

  • ALERT!!!!!! From this point on you will pick up your student from their classrooms, NOT from the sanctuary. The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, famously said, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” We thought the sanctuary would work for pickup—we were wrong. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
  • Summit classes need room mothers. Please contact Tammy McCabe to discuss this and other opportunities with the Summit PVO!
  • Be on the lookout for information about the Summit Back-to-School BBQ on the 13th. Again, contact Tammy M. if you are interested in helping with this event.
  • If you have car-pooling, or other needs/opportunities, they can be placed on this bulletin board.
Headmaster Blog for September 11, 2013: D.E.A.R. – Drop Everything And Read