To Teach a Kid How to Read, Teach a Kid How to Think

I’ve written an essay appearing on The Millions this morning about one of the big disagreements surrounding teaching kids how to comprehend books. My argument is a defense, contra Diane Ravitch, of teaching students explicit ‘thinking skills’ in addition to just teaching them content:

The more I delved into breaking down and sequencing the skills, however, the less I came to view them as “relatively simple” operations that amounted to droll fodder for standardized tests, and the more I thought of them as a high-stakes crash course in how to think that, when looked at in the right light, was more thrilling than just about anything I ever learned in middle school.

Appearing Elsewhere: The $787b man; America's biggest (political) loser; books on the end of empire

Links to three articles that I wrote in the last few months and am just now getting around to posting:

  • A profile of Ed DeSeve, the man Barack Obama tapped to administer the $787 billion stimulus fund. My conclusion after interviewing DeSeve: Obama found the right person for the job.
  • A review of a new biography of Henry Clay. I idolized Clay in 10th grade after writing a research paper on him, but it turns out my worship was misplaced. For all the power he attained, he remained fundamentally clueless about America.
  • There’s been a lot of talk lately about the decline of America. That prompted me to put together a guide to the best books about the end of empires. The article ran in the July issue of Bookmarks Magazine.