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Old 10-03-2012, 03:43 PM   #31
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I tried that on the bus at 7.15 am once. Not a popular move.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:13 PM   #32
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There wasn't assigned summer reading when I went to high school (didn't have mandatory physical education, either, and no one was fat). So I read for pleasure during the summer. Not during the school year. Except when I got to college. I still remember reading Jaws (the first book I ever bought) when I was supposed to be studying for my Calculus final.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:31 PM   #33
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I don't agree with anything on that article.

First, I don't see why all reading should be enjoyable to everyone.

Second, I enjoyed most of the books on that list.

Third, I think kids nowadays don't read because we don't feed them enough classics, not the other way around.

Fourth, you were always able to criticize a book. "It sucks" is not criticizing.

Fifth, it is not that everything enjoyable is shallow.

Bah... just bah. We are simplifying school curricula, then someone like this comes along saying we don't simplify it enough. Shall we, perhaps, assign only comic books to our kids? So we don't have to discuss Shakespeare with them?

Laziness does not piss me off. But laziness in raising kids is offensive.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:47 PM   #34
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Treating books like boiled spinach - something that's good for you, but you're not really supposed to enjoy - just makes students hate reading. As adults, we may read classic literature, but we do so on our own, no one tells us that we must read it. I'm reading Moby Dick now, and for the most part, I like it, but I would have chopped parts of it out. Make high school students read that book, and they are likely to hate it. No one's "wrong" to not enjoy it, insisting that this is great and that you're wrong if you don't agree just discourages students from reading.

Teach them to love reading, and they will discover better books. Shove the classics on them, and they will just stop reading.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:52 PM   #35
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I don't agree with anything on that article.

First, I don't see why all reading should be enjoyable to everyone.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:14 PM   #36
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Teach them to love reading, and they will discover better books. Shove the classics on them, and they will just stop reading.
Why are people under the impression that High School English and/or Lit classes should have anything to do with teaching kids to love reading? Other classes aren't saddled with the responsibility of making students "fall in love" with their subjects. It's class, not book club.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:17 PM   #37
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Why are people under the impression that High School English and/or Lit classes should have anything to do with teaching kids to love reading? Other classes aren't saddled with the responsibility of making students "fall in love" with their subjects. It's class, not book club.
'Reading' is a bit more fundamental than , say, physics, though, isn't it?
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:23 PM   #38
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Why are people under the impression that High School English and/or Lit classes should have anything to do with teaching kids to love reading? Other classes aren't saddled with the responsibility of making students "fall in love" with their subjects. It's class, not book club.
It's the most important thing that a high school literature class can do. If what students get out of the class is "books suck", then even if the student did manage to analyze the book, the class did more harm than good.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:32 PM   #39
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'Reading' is a bit more fundamental than , say, physics, though, isn't it?
Math and physics are objective. You get one answer from an equation. If literature was like mathematics, the right book to read would also be objective. You don't have to love math, but you have to use it. If you want to covert a recipe that serves 4 to serve 6, you need math. Books are subjective. If you don't like the pythagorean theorem, you can't just pick some other equation. But some other book than the one the teacher assigned may very well do as well. If we adults had our reading chosen for us, I suspect we would enjoy reading a whole lot less.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:42 PM   #40
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No, I am serious. Some stuff you have to learn, fun or not. School is meant to educate... what message are we sending, that everything should be fun and giggles? Maybe this attitude has something to do with the problems in our workforce - people are not learning to WORK, intellectually or whatnot.

Second, even if you want to assign only enjoyable material, obviously 'enjoyable' is subjective. I, for one, enjoyed most of the books on that list - others might have not.

Also, I think school should offer a broad spectrum of selection and thus allow students to identify what type of literature most appeals to them. In the process, they will discover also what does NOT appeal to them. And that's fine. But the idea 'I don't read because high-school made me hate reading' is just a poorly formulated excuse for laziness. Do you not eat because once you tried food you didn't like?

And I constantly discover that my younger sister, now just out of high-school, has been assigned all sorts of sub-par material. Agatha Christie in high-school. I, myself, had to read Dracula the first year of college. Literature one should be able to understand and master at age 12, not 20. That's why I am so offended by this. We are already pretending way too little from these kids, now someone argues we should expect even less?

And, just to give you an idea... I have thought Finance to undergraduate and graduate students at multiple, all fairly high-ranked, universities. If I complain, it's because I can see the effects of our primary education first-hand. It is, flat-out, scary.

By this pace, by the time I am old, there won't be anyone capable of performing a medical procedure, because they won't be able to read a medical textbook. Or because they will not feel like doing it, because it's 'too boring'.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:53 PM   #41
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Math and physics are objective. You get one answer from an equation. If literature was like mathematics, the right book to read would also be objective. You don't have to love math, but you have to use it. If you want to covert a recipe that serves 4 to serve 6, you need math. Books are subjective. If you don't like the pythagorean theorem, you can't just pick some other equation. But some other book than the one the teacher assigned may very well do as well. If we adults had our reading chosen for us, I suspect we would enjoy reading a whole lot less.
I think that's what I was implying. Instilling a love of reading is a much more logical notion than instilling a love of physics.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:54 PM   #42
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'Reading' is a bit more fundamental than , say, physics, though, isn't it?
Well yes. But it's not really "Reading Class" at the point we're being asked to read those "boring old classics" any more, is it? We already know how to read. That's kind of my point. They don't only teach the fun, flashy, erupting-volcano science, or only the most recent (happened in the lifetime of the student) history, or strictly the applicable—when am I ever going to use this—kind of math. So I'm a little confused by the suggestion that a high-school English/Lit class somehow needs to be more of a "here's a book that kids your age seem to like. Read it. I hope you love it" sort of thing.

I guess it all boils down to a difference of opinion. And it's my opinion that a High School literature class has nothing to with instilling kids with a passion for reading. That ship has already sailed or sank by that point.

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Old 10-03-2012, 06:45 PM   #43
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But seriously...why does this always seem to come up? In my experience, the desire "to read" is sparked long before a child starts being assigned "chore fiction" to read in school. And I've yet to meet the child whose passion for reading was extinguished by academic reading assignments. Case in point: these articles are almost invariably written by people who still love to read even after the horrible ordeals they were put through. Waaaah!
People whose love of reading was squashed before they hit their teen years rarely remember it at all. They assume that reading was a kid-thing, and they enjoyed a bit of it when they were very young, but they don't like it now.

They don't think "school taught me to hate reading." There were plenty of things they liked when they were 8, and did some of in school, and didn't care for by the time they were 15. Playing kickball. Drinking milk out of little cartons. Coloring with crayons and using glitter on art projects. They don't assume that school taught them to hate these things; they assume that they outgrew them, and that some people loved them enough to keep doing them even after they were no longer necessary.

And while most avid readers didn't have their interest in reading killed by school, a lot of them won't touch "the classics" because of how schools taught them.

Classics are often taught without giving kids the context to understand them--Dickens' rich characters and complex storylines lose a lot if you know nothing about Victorian England and need a dictionary every other paragraph to catch some new word. Shakespeare's powerful scansion loses something on the page instead of spoken, and loses more if you don't know the proper pronunciation. And again, consulting a dictionary twice a page is a great way to lose track of the story.

And kids aren't given the classics and told, "read this! It's awesome!" They're told, "read this, and be ready to explain what makes this story Great Literature." And they don't know. They haven't read a thousand other works of literature to know why these stand out as great. They don't know what mediocre literature looks like--and all through school, nobody will tell them, other than modern YA fic, which is "everything you enjoy reading because it's about the kinds of things that happen in your life." So they're told that the stories that have direct appeal to them are pretty much worthless, and these stories about places they've never been to and people who act like nobody they know, are Great Literature.

No wonder people turn away from the classics, even when they're not forced to read them, even when they do have the life experience to understand them. They spent over a decade picking up the message "Classic = unrealistic and boring but someone says it's important; Books-I-like are never classics."
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:57 PM   #44
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Well yes. But it's not really "Reading Class" at the point we're being asked to read those "boring old classics" any more, is it? We already know how to read. That's kind of my point. They don't only teach the fun, flashy, erupting-volcano science, or only the most recent (happened in the lifetime of the student) history, or strictly the applicable—when am I ever going to use this—kind of math. So I'm a little confused by the suggestion that a high-school English/Lit class somehow needs to be more of a "here's a book that kids your age seem to like. Read it. I hope you love it" sort of thing.

I guess it all boils down to a difference of opinion. And it's my opinion that a High School literature class has nothing to with instilling kids with a passion for reading. That ship has already sailed or sank by that point.
I think we're violently agreeing here. Your last paragraph is the important one (for me). Literature classes should instill a passion for reading. Whether they do or not is a different matter.
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:03 PM   #45
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Why are people under the impression that High School English and/or Lit classes should have anything to do with teaching kids to love reading? Other classes aren't saddled with the responsibility of making students "fall in love" with their subjects. It's class, not book club.
I would argue that's why our schools and test scores are in the toilet. In today's world I don't think today's rote "sit still and learn this" works anymore. I didn't learn how cool history and science actually are until I got out of school. History is endlessly fascinating but every single year I had to learn about the bloody cotton gin. I never knew Nikola Tesla existed until I got out of school, every year it was Edison and the light bulb (again, not learning what a thief he was until I was out of school). If you can't engage or excite people about what they're doing, most will end up rejecting it.

Schools are competing with everything under the sun, from the internet and video games to smartphones and TV. The only thing the old ways of looking at education is good for is churning out incurious, intellectually lazy drones (some might say that that's the plan with government schooling but that's an argument for another site ). Thank God I had some natural curiosity going into school, I think that's the only thing that saved me from becoming another "I haven't done X since school" drone. Schools are supposed to instill a love of learning and open minds, not fill them with rote programming then slam the door.

However I will say that a good teacher can make even relatively boring material exciting and engage the students within the boundaries of their curriculum. Sadly many choose not to, I did horribly in high school because the way the material was presented was painfully dry and unengaging. I'm not saying I need flashy graphics and lasers to keep my interest but they've really gotta do better than "learn this because you're supposed to" and hand out a worksheet.

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