Friday, January 21, 2011

A Thought Towards Reading...

It has been a long time since I was a school teacher and I am wondering how it is done now?  My whole life has been in teaching, I know that now.  I taught High School for only one year and then move down a bit to Junior High School where I taught for only two years.  In 1979 the Recession of the '80's was upon us and I was laid off with 30 other teachers so that part of it was a short lived career.  I found other work, I've told that story, and always had people working for me.  It is the same relationship: teacher-student or boss and employee.  If you want someone to do something you have to show them how.  There is no penalty for a teacher when they give a "C" Grade and some would even grade on a curve: 5 "A's" and 5 "F's" and a bunch of "C's" in the middle. I never did that as a teacher and would have gone out of business if I ran my company that way.  I wanted all my employees to be their best and did everything I could to make sure this happened.
As a teacher I always considered it my failure if I gave a "C" grade.  Why couldn't I reach that kid anyway?
What should I have done that I didn't?
       I suspect that reading is even less important now than it was then.  Junior High School teaching is a bit different than any other level.  Kids are bouncing around all over the place.  There is a lot of energy and hormones are in a race with brain cells for supremacy.  They know just enough to get themselves in trouble and lack the experience to know it.  Most kids don't read because their parents don't read.  It is that simple.
They have no concept of reading as pleasure.  I could spot the students within fifteen minutes who grew up in a house without books.  They have a different language and can't see as far.
     This situation is getting worse, not better at all.  There is no improvement.  We don't even enjoy a newspaper anymore and they are going out of business or getting smaller, dumbing down the articles.
We lose the ability to read, to think critically, to analyze, to synthesize, to write a report, form an opinion,
to even enjoy the experience.  You can actually get IN a book become a part of whatever is happening.  The process will expand your vocabulary, tangle your synopses, enlarge your imagination, tickle your funny bone and lift your horizon.  Television puts you in the audience, not on the stage, and it is not the same thing at all.
     You can visit me Here


Ruby said...

I'm an insatiable reader....always have been. As a youngster I would read the dictionary when I had read everything in sight. My grandmother would read three daily newspapers every day of her life. My mother with her busy schedule would sit and read the newspaper at eleven in the eventings; I cannot recall her retiring without having first read the paper front to back.
Television is strictly a 'company' thing for me. I turn it on merely to hear a 'human voice' on days when I don't venture out into the world of 'beings'. I cannot use my 'imagination' watching television - as a matter of fact if I must sit in front of the 'idiot box' I usually read at the same time. When required to sit and watch a movie with my family I usually can be found in the kitchen cooking. The comment is always the same 'You're missing half the move'. Oh no I am not....I can hear it, I can imagine it.
I consider myself most fotunate ... my grandson loves reading as does my granddaughter. I worry about my grandson however his vocabulary isn't at the level I feel it should be. So I've devised a challenge for him .... each time I talk to him I will use a word I feel he should know (and probably doesn't) and ask him what the word means. Then I ask him to spell the word .... when he can't do either I make him use the dictionary. And then .... I encourage him to use the word in a sentence. He's reached a point now where he immediately asks for his 'new word' the minute we meet or talk.
My father was so interesting to talk to; one would think he had travelled the world ... and he had, in his armchair reading!
You are so right Jerry, reading is no longer a national passtime and it should be.

Barbra Joan said...

Jerry, I know how you've tried to impress upon me the importance of reading. And it has gotten me to join my public library which I will be visiting as soon as I get out of this bed/couch. If I'm to be commenting on your blog posts I better get busy reading!! Thanks for leading me there.

stonepost said...

Ruby, I am happy that you are a reader and I can tell from reading your blogs that you are, just in your descriptions!
Barbra, I'll meet you at the library behind the stacks of books!
It is interesting how I can post about a knock down drag out fight at a party and get 12 comments and when I post something innocent and sincere I get two!

Barbra Joan said...

oh, you just love a good back and forth debate.. and this post was too calm for you and your followers. except for Ruby and I your old standbys. We're right there no matter what the topic. !!!

Constance Stanza Extravaganza Extraordinaire said...

That's because I agree completely with you, which then means it's not a debate!

Did I send you that URL about teaching children and what is happening to them now? I think it was called something like "Dumbing down the youth of America" which is an appalling use of English anyway! I grew up in a Colonial country and was taught the traditional British system of education which including reading and speaking properly. There are times that I cannot understand what people are talking about and trying to read what they write is nigh impossible!

But then, I'm told that I talk funny Jerry and most people here have no idea of what I'm saying :-)))

Kay said... thoughts exactly! I remember was so easy.. both my sons to read before they started kindergarten. Then I was told they had not been socialized properly because I didn't drop them of at preschool! They went traveling, across country, went to museums and libraries, and art openings.before they ever went to school. They still read at ages 28 and 31..they are smart and full of imagination, ideas and wonder for life. Reading..the best thing ever!

AutumnLeaves said...

I've been an avid all of my life and have tried to instill that joy into my daughters. Both are readers and now I am seeing my grandkids reading too. What a true gift in life. Funnily enough, I've also taught (subbed) and was absolutely appalled at how standard calculator use is in math classes and from such young ages. There is no thought to the process and how it is done and I get really bugged about that too. Trying to tell a kid what fabulous worlds he can enter through reading...I've never been able to find the words to explain the dreams and the imaginations that are ignited when reading. I'm just thankful my kids grew up to read!

Chez said...

StonePost this is of great interest to me! I personally believe the 'dumbing down' is within the education system. Students that have come through the education system without fully understanding English language/grammar go on to become teachers. Technology appears to have replaced books and newspapers.
Sending my best wishes Chez xo.

Constance Stanza Extravaganza Extraordinaire said...

I receive bulletins from Rhodes University which is where I continued my education after I left school. This is what they posted on Farcebook today Jerry, I have copied the comments as well which is more explicit than what the Vice Chancellor was saying:

Rhodes Oldies

Varsity boss vs ANC MP
A war of words has erupted between Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Saleem Badat and a senior ANC member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, Mzolelei Mrara, over the state of the country’s education.
8 hours ago · Like · Comment · Share
5 people like this.
Zackie Achmat Go Saleem!
8 hours ago · Like · 3 people
Zamaswazi Hlophe Mrara, you need to take criticism like an adult. I'm a proud former Rhodes student & over the years RU has done a lot for transformation. The education system sucks right now & something needs to be done about it. And I will tell you this to your face if we ever met. And no, I also don't have any struggle credentials to declare, so let's get that out of the way. Clean up the mess!!!
6 hours ago via Facebook Mobile · Unlike · 3 people
St Claire Adriaan Viva Saleem!!!!!! Fight the good Fight!!!
5 hours ago · Like
Sarah De La Pasture This is shocking: in a free state govt. school (once Afrikaans, now black) the (male, black) TEACHER instructs some girls to come to school without panties and to sit in the front row with their legs open. Also, sex for improved marks (several teachers). The member of staff who told me this has to clear up the condoms in the room they use. This particular teacher is making moves to be the SADTU representative.
3 hours ago · Like
Liz Bailey And we wonder why the youth have no respect for adults, teachers, police etc. Something has to be done soon.
2 hours ago · Like
Jock Mcconnachie we need to give serious suport to Salem Bhadat and all others genuinely concerned about education. Any one who knows what is actually going on in education, knows that the politicians and the so called educators are failing the children but determined not to admit to their failures. Why do rural schools not have classrooms, books, chairs, desks, computers etc? It is not a lack of funds, but it is a lack of delivery and the government must stop making excuses.
2 hours ago · Unlike · 1 person

My case rests!!!!