Thursday, 1 March 2018

Bookshelves, The New Awe Factor.

Books, so last century.

Afterwards I berated myself but I can't give up trying. Give up that outlandish idea of making kids enjoy reading. No, more basic than that, making kids read in the first place.

Helping a young boy cram for an English test, has made me wonder about some teachers. The test was today and apart from giving them a huge bundle of stuff to learn, know and write ( at least two essays, many grammar questions, two reading sections with questions and all the vocabulary of the past four units ) they were given an A4 sheet of paper yesterday, typed full of questions that might be asked of the various stories they've read in their student's book. All that in 50 odd minutes makes it no wonder that most kids don't like English.

Going through the question sheet with him yesterday and searching for the answers to each of them, made me realize yet again how vital it is to read for pleasure. Whereas we would be able to jot down a few words to remind us and then elaborate properly during the test, the kids who don't read books for pleasure have a hard time formulating answers to questions that they know the answer to. eg:

"Why did the ancient Egyptians wear big pieces of fat on their heads? "
Short answer: Perfume
Long answer: ( fraught with grammatical pitfalls for non readers.) The ancient Egyptians wore big pieces of fat on their heads because when it melted in the heat, it gave off a pleasant smell.

Anyway, we went through the whole lot and at the end, when I could see steam rising from his brain, eyes closing and yawns escaping, I showed him a post I had seen on Facebook recently.
It showed three columns of readers;

  • those who read 20 minutes a day ( 1 800 000 words and 3600 minutes per school year ),
  • those that read 5 minutes a day ( 282 000 words and 900 minutes per school year )
  • and those that read 1 minute a day ( 8000 words and 180 minutes per school year )

I think the penny dropped at least some of the way when I told him how much easier English could be for him. Homework would be a breeze... Bob, who was sitting in the lounge heard me and said:

" Show him our bookshelves. "
which, when I did ensued in eyes as big as saucers and mouth agape at the amount of books on it. For good measure I told him that we've read all of them and some more than once...clearly, to him we are mad as hatters, outlandish and extremely odd...yet hopefully, also an example.


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