Today, one of my regular customers came through Starbucks (My college summer and pre-student teaching job) with Torey Hayden’s book, One Child (1980). She presented it to me as a gift saying, “I learned more from this book than I did from most of my textbooks back when I was in school.” As a 30 plus year veteran teacher who had mentored 16 student teachers, I was practically falling out of my drive-through window with anticipation and excitement.
She went on to explain that her professor was a stickler for research-backed resources and wouldn’t accept any opinions based in experience. “It had to be supported by data or he wouldn’t accept it.” She said they would spend hours reading from textbooks and nothing else. Long story short, she stumbled across this book and was so moved by its message she presented it to her data-driven professor. After a few weeks tense weeks without any response, her professor eventually called her into his office where he applauded her for bringing this book to his attention. He admitted that sometimes there are things that cannot be expressed through data alone. She went on to present this text to every one of her 16 student teachers she had over her career. She hoped that I would find similar inspiration in the text as she did years ago.
While I have never read Torey Hayden’s One Child (1980), the underlying theme of our conversation really resonated with me: stats and data aren’t always everything. While there is no denying the importance of data and researched-backed instruction, there also needs to be room for experiential data. Students’ cannot and should not be described, categorized, stigmatized or glorified by data alone. I will let you know what I learn as I dive into this text over the next few weeks. Thanks to my customer for the unnecessary yet cherished gift. To some, it really is more than just coffee!