I’ve been feeling totally unable to stay focused, that my attention divided in so many directions that in the end nothing gets done. In addition to teaching my #PBL classes, I am working on some micro-credentials. My husband and I are also planning a cross-continent move in the next six months. And, since we have lived in the same home for 18 years, there is major decluttering to be done!
Tim Harford, in Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives reassures me that “…having several projects may seem distracting, but instead the variety grabs our attention － we’re like tourists gawping at details that a local would find mundane…” [p. 28]. He further states, “…while we’re paying close attention to one project, we may be unconsciously processing another…” [p. 28].
Which is perhaps what led to using picture books in my literature and storytelling class this past week. As I document here and here, I’ve been reflecting on how experiences with books and reading at an early age gives kids a huge advantage in their future success in school (and life!). Not only does reading with our children provide them with exposure to and modeling of the reading process, it creates a positive emotional connection to books and reading. As this Washington Post article points out, it also helps them become “empathetic citizens of the world.”
Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world
So, I should not have been surprised when my teenage students expressed such glee when I assigned them close reading of picture book biographies. Perhaps they are also feeling the nostalgia of their younger years, being read to by a caretaker.
Phew, I did it. Finished my 100th book of 2018 just a few minutes ago. Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, by Tim Harford, was a wonderful selection to end with. It was both different and broader in its scope than I expected.
I anticipated an analysis of messiness in the creative process, and how it leads to richer results. Harford does delve into that topic, and also explores a host of others. For example, how the German general Erwin (aka The Desert Fox) Rommel’s willingness to make “messy” tactical moves brought success. And how Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos’ willingness to “messily” sell what he didn’t have, and to buy toy merchandise at retail price from Toys R Us and Target to meet customer expectations, brought long-term success.
I felt particularly vindicated in the chapter that declares messy desks are actually more functional and efficient than tidy ones. Harford also substantiated my approach to finding emails, stating that “clicking through a[n email] folder tree took almost a minute, while simply searching took just 17 seconds.” [p. 240]
The final chapter of the book discusses a topic I’ve brooded about some. Entitled “Life,” it explores (among other things) the idea that “tidy” playgrounds are actually more dangerous, and far less effective at building positive human traits, than “messy” playgrounds which include things like fires, hand saws, and tons of rubbish.
A recommended read!
P.S. Online dating is a sham.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am sprinting to finish my 100-book Goodreads challenge for 2018. Last night, I was perusing my home’s bookshelves looking for a particular book (which I still haven’t located). In the process, my eyes swept over the shelves that contain remnants of the scads of books I read to/with my children when they were young.
Which brought on a bout of nostalgia. I read to my children practically from birth, and am always aghast when I encounter new parents who proclaim they will start reading to their child when s/he starts talking. I’m never quite sure what the right reaction is. I don’t want to “lecture” people and get their backs up, and at the same time my heart cries for those babies who are missing out. As a May 2017 Psychology Today article reports, “[r]eading to babies as young as six months of age leads to stronger vocabularies and better early literacy skills four years later…” In my mind, six months of age is still a late start!
[r]eading to babies as young as six months of age leads to stronger vocabularies and better early literacy skills four years later
My older son was a book lover from an early age. As I scanned our bookshelves, memories flooded back of sitting snuggled together reading book after book, him totally wrapt, begging for more. Shortly after revisiting this time in my life, I read Anna’s post on the Meditative Pace of Reading. Her musings relate to adult reading, particularly longform fiction. Knowing she has a newborn at home, I invite her to also start considering all those delightful stories she can share with her child!
Some that were favorites in my house:
Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
Everything Dr Seuss
Everything Eric Carle
The Giving Tree (and his poetry books!), by Shel Silverstein
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
Mr Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Water Hole, by Graeme Base
Where the Wild Things Are (and many others!), by Maurice Sendak
White Rabbit’s Colors, by Alan Baker