The generosity of David’s attention

Truthfully I can’t recall the very first time I met David. I do know that I was surprised, and honored, that he agreed to serve as a discussant in a session Christine Cziko and I gave at AERA or NCTE or IRA some 20 years ago. We were reporting on the early collaborative R&D work with teachers that resulted in Reading Apprenticeship. He didn’t know me from Adam, yet he read our papers and gave our work serious thought, and managed to praise our efforts. He later wrote the forward for our first edition of Reading for Understanding, detailing what he found admirable in phrases only David could put together — “a sort of resonant complementarity” for instance — and ending his forward with a characteristically generous invitation: “But enough from me. It is time to hear from the authors.” Since then, of course, I’ve learned how common it is for David to give of his time and his attention, and indeed his praise (and his delightfully novel phrases), in this way. David is not a person or scholar who maintains his giant stature in the field by minimizing the work of others. His gives equally of his generous recognition to teachers working to support students, to those working to support teachers, and to writers and scholars inside and outside of universities, as I have always been. I found this remarkable then, and I find it remarkable now. In part through David’s inclusive embrace at NRC (LRA) and IRA (ILA), I began to meet and develop fast friendships with other reading scholars and to find a comfortable home in the R&D and service borderlands I travel between academia and the classroom. I know many others will find the generosity of David’s attention to their work resonant and will remember the welcome of his recognition.

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