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Not Choosing is a Still A Choice

Season 3 of Emily in Paris opens with our heroine Emily facing lots of big choices: Madelyn or Sylvie? New York or Paris? Safety or risks? Emily can’t determine which path is best for her, and so she instead avoid the choice altogether. She avoids making a decision and instead attempts to work for both women, in both countries. Tres unrealistic!

Emily’s (very handsome) beau Alfie advises her: “Not choosing is still choosing.” In avoiding her professional decision, Emily inadvertently chooses dishonesty. She thinks that she is helping both women; she thinks she is making everyone happy- but she is actually hurting them and leaving everyone disappointed. I won’t give any spoilers, but you can probably guess the beginning of Season 3 is a bumpy one for our heroine.

Many educators today respond like Emily in the sometimes ugly debate taking place on how best to teach reading. Phonics or whole language? Structured or balanced? Decodable or enjoyable? Teachers are overwhelmed by the loud voices on both sides, so they avoid the conflict altogether. They disengage from the “reading wars”, keep their heads down, and teach as their principal and districts suggest.

We can’t blame these educators. Who wants to go to “war”? Teaching is difficult enough even when everyone is in agreement on curricula. But not choosing is still choosing. Not engaging in the science of reading is choosing ignorance. Not researching best instructional approaches is actively allowing for student failure.

Don’t be like Emily. Don't let your ignorance push students off the Eiffel Tower. Make an informed choice on how YOU feel is the best approach to reading instruction.

Do some research. Listen to podcasts. Engage in conversations. Ask questions. Take time to consider responses. Take it slow. La nuit porte council. It is never too late to get started. Mieux vaut tard que jamais. And remember that when we know better, we teach better.

I’ve listed a few resources below to support teachers in making a choice.

Bonne chance!

What Every Teacher Should Know About The Reading Wars

Four Things You Need to Know About The Reading Wars

Can We Please Stop Talking About Phonics?

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