March 19, 2012

Five Things Learned from Pam Allyn

The award-winning author and children’s advocate on the power of understanding

Pam Allyn, the Executive Director and founder of both LitWorld and LitLife, talks about community, understanding, and the value of a child’s perspective on education today.

The most important voices, the crucial voices, the voices of children themselves, are most often left out when we speak of matters of education and best practice... Their perspective should be essential to how we think about education...I once asked a class of students to write what the secret message of their stories was, on a turned down corner of a page. And do you know what? Out of twenty children, seventeen wrote this word: "Love.”

"I was the shy child," a teacher said to me recently. "I was the child who never spoke up. Until I was thirteen, when a great teacher encouraged me and saw I had potential." This is a story worth telling... And while a good teacher cannot dictate the future, she can have a remarkably dramatic impact on all areas of her students’ future lives, including earnings, health and overall happiness.

If we can teach reading and writing and history and science through the lens of people’s own stories, we forge understandings that help us seal our trust in one another and make new commitments to improving the world. Education becomes the supreme tool we can give every child to best ensure that they improve this broken world and make it whole.

If you love to cook, there was perhaps a grandmother in your past who touched your hand as she helped you roll out the dough. And you loved that. If you love to read, there was someone who read to you, or at some point in your life, showed you what it felt like to fall through the pages of a book and into the story itself…We have to provide all children with the way to fall in love.

Share your ideas. Just want to give them away... to your colleagues, to your students, to the world.

LitWorld is a global organization advocating for children’s rights as readers, writers and learners. LitLife is a national organization dedicated to school improvement. In addition, Pam is the author of acclaimed and award-winning books that include What To Read When: The Books and Stories To Read With Your Child–And All The Best Times To Read Them (Penguin Avery), Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys: How To Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives (Scholastic), and Your Child’s Writing Life (Penguin Avery).

Latest Reads

About Learning Starts

LEARNING STARTS is a quick digital guide to education and learning now. Written with today's parents in mind, our guide is optimistic because we’re excited about all that’s happening to engage young people in classrooms and community organizations around the world.

read more

K-5 Kids

We’ve talked about the importance of reading with your kids and serving as models for lifelong learning. Research continues to highlight the value of the shared practice for developing their literacy skills, preparing them for elementary school and the world beyond.

Middle School

We’ve been hearing about game-based learning for quite some time, along with the promise that any day now software engineers and game designers will figure out a way to harness the near-addictive enthusiasm kids bring to video games to help them learn. That day might indeed be close, given the big names now throwing energy and resources at the challenge, including Bill Gates himself.

High School

Contributing to Five Things I’ve Learned, Dr. Russell J. Quaglia, the president and founder of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA), reminds us that asking questions is easy. Engaging students and helping them move forward with their ambitions is what makes real change—and brilliant futures—possible.