March 16th, 2015

On Pedagogy

My article on children learning to read, “How to Learn to Read (if You Don’t Already Know)” is out in Canadian Notes and Queries. It’s a great issue, with reviews by some of my favourite people, like Mark Sampson and Kerry Clare. Even the pieces by non-close-friends are awesome, like an article by Stephen Henighan (he seems like a good guy, but we don’t often hang) on Mavis Gallant’s mother–who knew that was exactly what I wanted to read, but it was.

My own article was a big challenge for me, because it’s as near as I dare tread to journalism. I mean, it isn’t–it has way too much about my experiences in kindergarten to be legit journalism, but I did actually interview people and track down lots of interesting information. Teaching and learning are some of my favourite topics of late. It’s no surprise, probably, since I work in textbooks but don’t actually have a background in education. I see a lot of pedagogical talk going on, and I’m slowly piecing together how things work–at least a little.

The best thing, though, is talking to actual students. I got the chance to do so a couple weeks ago, when I went to visit the Writers’ Craft class at Watertown High. It was a fun group engaged, chatty teens and I enjoyed myself though I was a bit exhausted by the end of the hour. Standing at the front of a group 25 eager faces, trying to entertaining and engaging and actually share something useful is very very hard. The coolest thing was that the teacher of that class was MY Writers’ Craft teacher, someone who taught me a lot way back in 1997. I mentioned this fact to the class when I arrived and a murmur quickly went through the room–I heard someone whisper “birthday!” It turns out that is the YEAR THEY WERE ALL BORN. I am twice as old as the grade 12s of today. Alarming. But brilliant that they still have such a great class at their disposal in the age of disappearing electives, and such a great teacher there to teach it to them. Thanks, Waterdown High–and thanks, Ms. North!!

4 Responses to “On Pedagogy”

  • Jeff Bursey says:

    Rebecca, hi. I read you (and Mark) in the issue (how many times per year do you guys appear in the same issue of one periodical or another?), and appreciated both your writing about personal experiences and the research you did.


  • Rebecca says:

    Aw, thanks, Jeff. I’m not a real non-fiction writer but I’m edging towards it via topics that fascinate me. And we have been in the same issue of something twice now–so cutesy, so fun. You and Beth ever?


  • Jeff Bursey says:

    I think you already are a non-fiction writer, for what is your blog? So, don’t under-sell yourself, Rebecca.:~]

    _Galleon_ III has fiction by Beth and criticism by me. It came out in December, and in an anthology of pei writers. I think you and Mark were in a _New Quarterly_ or something last year, is that right?


  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, JB–and you are right about TNQ. We’ll have to get that Galleon anthology–sounds like something my household needs!


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