Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's All About George Clooney

This month on I.N.K. we're writing about George Clooney, and how the adoption of George Clooney standards by most US states affects the way we write our books, and I guess the way teachers use our books to teach. Well, I have to admit I'm a little puzzled by this. I mean, I think about George Clooney as much as the next person while writing my books. I mean, who can forget him in E.R.?

Not I, I tell you that. I mean, it's quite often that when I'm researching my current project, or thinking about my next book, I remember that moment when he tells Nurse Carol how much he loves her, something about the smell of her on the pillow next to him, remember...? I hope that when teachers teach significant George Clooney moments, they teach that. 

But lately, when I'm thinking about how to keep my book moving, how to make it interesting to kids while also fit into the George Clooney standards--nah, I don't actually think about George Clooney at THOSE moments. At those moments I think about plot arcs, and details that make me go, "oh wow," and that kind of thing. Maybe I should think about how teachers will use my book to teach to the GC standards at those times, though. Like in Gravity, when Matt tells Ryan to sip not gulp. That's a good standard when you're running out of CO2 I guess, isn't it? And maybe also when you're writing about something hard? Sip don't gulp. 

To tell the truth, usually I think about George when I'm stuck. Or worried that not enough people will read my book. Then I kind of wander into all kinds of dark places, like some of those weird scenes in  Men Who Stare at Goats
And I think, "well, it was a weird movie, but some people liked it, and I sure did, and I'm proud of those filmmakers for telling that story, no matter how quirky it was. And that movie was at least in part non-fiction, so that's cool and I wonder if anybody did actually walk through a wall." 

By the time I'm done with that line of thought, I've either come up with a good idea for the problem I was trying to solve, or I go make dinner. 

So, in sum, I'd just like to say that I don't actually think about George Clooney to do my work, but more as a distraction. And if it turns out that he likes my books, or that teachers can really use them for the George Clooney standards, well then I'm really hap-- what? -- It's not George Clooney Standards??--

It's Common Core Standards???!!

Holy Headlines, Batman. I need a superhero to save this post.

The thing is,  I'm not a teacher, never been one. I've been told my books are perfect for Common Core. But I don't know exactly how I'd use my books to teach the Common Core. And I'm not even sure if it's a good thing, or a bad thing. Of course I think that anything that gets kids to read more nonfiction is a good thing. To read more at all, is a great thing. I just hope that CC is not a flavor of the month, or that it turns out to be more work for teachers and less help to kids like No Child Left Untested has been. 

But I don't know. This is not my expertise. So here's my plan: I'm going to keep writing books to the best of my ability. Books about subjects that make me (and I hope Mr. Clooney) go WOW. And I will leave the Common Core stuff to the experts. 

But let me say this: other people here on I.N.K. seem to have good thoughts about and a good understanding of the Common Core. So please read the other really good columns about Common Core here on I.N.K.

And clearly, I better read my email more carefully. 

Yikes. Come to think of it, I hope my editor actually did agree to my new picture book about Robert Redford. 


Susan Kuklin said...

You are too funny, Deborah Heiligman. But what about Cate Blanchette? Or Meryl Streep? Please put them on your picture book list. Or I will.

Barbara Kerley said...

Loved this post, Deb. (And the photos.)

And I agree with you -- it doesn't really make sense to think about the standards while writing; it's better to just write the best books we can. Happily, in doing that, you are creating books that are perfect for George.

Sue Macy said...

This is the post I would have written if I weren't taking a break and if I were half as funny as you. I love George. But I think the Sandra Bullock Standards are more my cup of tea.

Susan E. Goodman said...

Loved it!

Karen Romano Young said...

Silly. But also really sensible and spot-on. Our books are square pegs, and the standards provide some square holes. Yes indeed. I'm glad to hear you're keeping on writing and leaving the placing of pegs in holes to the people who have to implement the standards. Teachers, what say you?

Jim Murphy said...

I am smiling too much from reading this to post anything very sensible, other than to agree that the actual writing of our books shouldn't be burdened by a slavish following of the CCSS. Also, I will go along with adhering to the Sandra Bullock Standards day and night. Jim P.S. We know someone who worked with Mr. Clooney and she said he is as nice and as smart as you would imagine. Don't you just hate perfection? completely seperate

Jim Murphy said...

P.P.S. not sure how "completely separate" got in there. Clearly I'm not perfect.

Loreen Leedy said...

Excellent...definitely have needed some satire to bring the high seriousness of the discussion pro and con about the CCSS into perspective.