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Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss ... and Hooray for Being a Diffendoofer School!

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday, and of course I wanted to share a story or two from this beloved author. With his help, I have taught a fair number of young children to read - it is simply magic for most beginning readers.

I picked one that very few of the children had heard before - Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. This book is based on some sketches and verses from Dr. Seuss before his death, and expanded on by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Lane Smith. It is an ode to individuality, and a sly rebuke of "boring" schools, with adults lecturing, and lines of children marching in the hallway.

In order to stay at their beloved small and rather quirky school, the children must pass a standardized test. It will get torn down if the school can't prove that the children are actually learning, and they will have to go to the dreaded school in dreary Flobbertown. However, as one of the teachers says:

“Don’t fret!” she said,
You’ve learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more -
I’m certain you’ll succeed.
We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more -
We’ve taught you how to think.”

And, of course, it is true. Since the children love to learn and have learned how to think (rather than simply regurgitate information) they pass the test handily. 

I rejoice at being part of a "Diffendoofer School" and feel that our students (and teachers!) are very lucky indeed. This type of education - full of joy and discovery - is what every child deserves.

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