Saturday, September 8, 2012

Respect for reading...

Picture linkI am in the midst of this awful turmoil in my life. I lay in bed awake at night, my mind rolls as I drive in my truck, my thoughts wonder during bland conversations, my stomach tightens at the thought of my issue, my distress quickens my tempo as I run in the wee morning hours.

I just can't seem to shake my fear that students are being force fed reading skills (main idea, details, inferencing, cause & effect, etc.) without ever being guided and scaffolded into a love of reading. Now my utopian view does reach a level of realism in the fact that I understand that not all students will LOVE to read in the end. However, if we don't balance the scales of skills and love of reading, we may be in more serious trouble than we already are.

I have always been drawn to the beautiful game of basketball! As I was starting out my very short career in rec league basketball as a 5 year old playing with 6 and 7 year olds, I was placed on Coach Mike's team. Coach Mike was the park supervisor and possessed a love for the game equal to mine today. Coach Mike knew, however, that a love to basketball must be accompanied with an understanding and ability to execute the skills. During practice, we practiced defense and dribbling with both hands and proper shooting form and passing, but we ALWAYS got to play and play hard and have fun. Through this, even as very young boys, we learned to love and respect the game. We were taught both HOW to play basketball and to PLAY basketball. Even these days, as a 30 year old wannabe, I find myself bouncing the ball off the house, cutting around a pick to the top of the key, catching and releasing the ball in fluid motion in order to practice. I respect the game!

I fear that students these days are crammed with reading skills that have no meaning. They're forced to read and respond to canned questions, forfeiting their chances to truly interact with text. They read snippets of some of the best children's literature ever written from the pages of a reading basil only to answer comprehension questions at the end of the section, complete a vocabulary quiz, and write poorly connected spelling words in alphabetical order. Never is the child taught to savor the story or struggle with the character or criticize the author's writing style. Granted, an understanding and ability to utilize the skills of reading is needed for this to take place. However, isn't a love for reading equally needed?

A respect for reading will only be fostered in children when we balance teaching them HOW to read with teaching them to READ! One canNOT be done without the other!

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