On teaching non-fiction
About a year ago a colleague and I were asked to conduct an evaluation of the language arts programme of a school district I shall call Woodward, a small suburban town just north of New York City. I was intrigued by the opportunity. My own work is largely in the New York City schools, the largest school system in the United States, and one faced with a host of urban ills. In fact, I am a graduate of that system, having attended elementary, middle and high schools in New York City. I knew little about suburban schools, except that they had few of the problems of city schools. The town of Woodward was an affluent one and had only three schools, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school. Classes were small, buildings new, supplies abundant. Hundreds of teachers applied for each job opening. What, I wondered, did the teaching of writing and reading look like in such an ideal setting?