Life Is Funny Tell Your Tweens + Teens

That Is Not What That Meant

Just because they can read it doesn’t mean they can understand it. My daughter and Harry Potter were the same age when the series came out. She insisted that she could read that book, so I got it for her. And like a good mommy, I read it myself so I would know what we were feeding her mind. Then, we had family book talks while driving in the car, and many times we had to tell her, “That is not what that meant.” It did turn out to be a great vehicle for discussing prejudice because, even though we are all Muggles, we are also a mixed family.JK Rowling

That is not what that meant.

Despite my due diligence and our many discussions, a couple of years later my daughter was trying to explain to me how the Dursley family had treated Harry Potter kindly.
What? Are we talking about the same book?
Even though she could read the words, her limited life experiences colored her interpretations of the story events. Her little fourth grade mind had formulated an alternative understanding, which she still believed. And, she had a slew of arguments to defend her position:

  • Bringing Harry along to the zoo with them was a generous gesture by the Dursleys.
  • Dudley was kind to share the rest of his unwanted treat.
  • And, of course, living under the stairs in that really cool room was an enviable privilege!

I was faced with a dilemma. Should I explain the truth to her, or leave it alone because it was so funny? (“Tell your aunt how the Dursleys treated Harry, honey.”) >giggle<  In good conscience, I knew I had to tell her, “That is not what that meant,”

More Examples of Reading Ability Outdistancing Comprehension.

Example 2: One of my favorites is when she plopped down on the couch next to me, beaming. Reaching up, she began tapping on her eyelashes, obviously waiting for me to comment.
“What are you doing?” I asked, grinning back.
Her face fell at my lack of understanding. “Mom! I’m batting my eyelashes!”
Okaaay. That is not what that meant.
Example 3: How about the vocabulary that comes out of a young reader? On her ninth birthday, she announced, “Now that I’m almost a teenager—”
“Hold it!” I had to stop her right there. “You are not almost a teenager. I will tell you when you are almost a teenager.”
“But Mom, I’ll be an add dole lee sent at ten.” At least, that’s what she said. What she was trying to say was ‘I’ll be an adolescent at ten.’ (What in the world was she reading?) I now know never to make fun of a person who mispronounces words, because that means they are a true reader, but at the time I was rolling on the floor laughing. (It’s okay. She still turned out alright.)
Example 4: Don’t think this Reading versus Comprehension phenomenon is just about my brilliant child (objectively speaking, of course). A mother purchased my book, Fairly Certain, for her son, but her second grade daughter insisted she could read the book, too. The child flipped it open, and bless her heart, started correctly reading, and pronouncing, the words.similar to authors like Janet Evanovich

Chris snickered. “Sounds like a bumper sticker.”

The little girl looked up. “What does a bumper sticker sound like?”
I told you it wasn’t just my kid.
How about your kid?

Walking the Walk

March For Science

Science touches everything we do— including the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. According to Jonathan Foley and Christine Arena, it affects the kinds of diseases we get and the medicines we use. It dictates what our kids are taught in school, what is discussed in the news, and what is debated in Congress. Science affects the jobs we have, and what powers our economy. It needs our help to remain pure, so join the March for Science.

School Stuff Walking the Walk

Teaching Environmental Science in the Inner City

I was teaching Environmental Science in the inner city in Connecticut. Usually, when a high school student is enrolled in an Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES) class, one would expect it would be by choice. However, when the administration’s goal is to offer the largest variety of AP (Advance Placement) classes in the city, filling the seats becomes the priority, and choice is thrown out the window. The result: raging discontent that makes it a little difficult for

Teaching Environmental Science in the Inner City