The Day My God Died

a documentary that chronicles the experiences of young girls from nepal who are trafficked and sold into the child sex trade in bombay


reading rainbow no more

i would sing the title tune long after i stopped watching reading rainbow. i appreciated host, levar burton's ease and enthusiasm for reading, for stories, and imagination. i can't make a direct causal link, but i don't think it's a coincidence that what continues to inspire me to inquire is the study of literacies. so as i read the headline on npr - 'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter - i was prepared to read about a natural end, like "mr. rogers' neighborhood," which officially buttoned up its cardigan in 2001.

but as i read and learned of the funding trends that contributed to the show's demise. a few excerpts:
The show's run is ending, Grant explains, because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights.
and perhaps even more frustrating was this bit of analysis:
"Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.

Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do.

"Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read," Grant says. "You know, the love of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read."
i'm reminded of recent conversations i've been having with older youth in their late teens and early 20s. among the topics we've been discussing is the paucity of "why" discourse. collectively, they reflected on the relatively few instances when they were encouraged to really question, explore, and understand why they engaged in any particular practice or action. this made me wonder, where are there spaces for the kind of critical questioning that cultivates sustained inquiry? do we care if kids now become thinking adults later? can we afford to distill education down to discrete and scripted moments of skill-based interactions?

it saddens me that, given growing evidence of the many different ways kids not only learn to read but also cultivate myriad literacy practices, that the thrust of public funding and policy is being driven by myopic understandings of literacy.

the article closes with the following musings:
Reading Rainbow's impending absence leaves many open questions about today's literacy challenges, and what television's role should be in addressing them.

"But" — as Burton would have told his young readers — "you don't have to take my word for it."
more thoughts on this shortsighted decision:
Did Education Dept.'s Shift Help Kill PBS's 'Reading Rainbow'?
Reading Rainbow Reads Its Final Chapter on PBS
In Memoriam: “Reading Rainbow”



31st annual ethnography in education research forum

***CALL for PAPERS***
NOTIFICATION: early November, 2009

We live in an era of rapid changes, and this year has had especially dramatic ones: a global economic crisis, the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States, and the massive popularization of iPhone-type mobile web devices, to name a few. In U.S. education, for example, charter schools and more and more public schools are experimenting with new ways of doing teaching and learning, from online course formats to “small school” models to ways of making do with smaller budgets and staff. How have the social, economic, cultural, and technological changes of our time influenced our ways of teaching and learning, inside and outside of school, as well as our “ways of knowing” as researchers and practitioners? And how do we create new ways of teaching, learning, researching, and knowing, amidst change?

There has been much talk of change in our societies, from suggestions of a post-racial era, to predictions of minority-majority demographic shifts and class mobility, to initiatives for financial reorganization and school accountability. In such times of crisis, or opportunity, ethnographers and qualitative researchers are uniquely positioned to be able to find, understand, and share creative new ways of learning and knowing. At this 31st annual Ethnography in Education research forum, we hope to hear about and share creative re-imaginings and new ways of doing education, with an eye towards the future of education reform, research, and practice.

Plenary speakers:
Samy Alim, University of California at Los Angeles

Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College, and Susan Lytle, University of Pennsylvania

Doug Foley, University of Texas at Austin

All proposals may be submitted online beginning August 14: