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Old 10-03-2012, 07:48 PM   #46
DiapDealer
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Sorry, but I'm going to have to bail after this. We're all talking about different things: different age groups, different goals, different concepts/philosophies and misunderstanding each other left and right in the process.

All I'm saying is that while I think an "inspire kids to love reading books" class would be a wonderful thing ... I think that A) "High School" (from the title of the OP's original article) is much, much too late for such a class. And B) Such a class would have to be completely independent of any English/Literature classes. Mainly because an "I Love to Read Books" class wouldn't really be of much help to someone who might be contemplating stepping up to college-level English/Literature classes in a couple of years.
And C) any class that was specifically geared toward attempting to inspire a love of reading in 13-18 year-olds would quickly become the Easy [X number of credits] Class. A blow off.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:15 PM   #47
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I had a boring, horrible Shakespeare professor and I hated Shakespeare for years.
I had a stupendously good teaching-award-winning Shakespeare professor, in a small seminar, and still don't like Shakespeare.
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Heck, school is what drove me deeper into reading.
Yep. I read novels hidden under the desk while teachers lectured.

It is up to the individual what if anything they want to read. What child A loves child B may hate. And I'm not sure there is any moral superiority associated with preferring books to films.

As far as I am concerned, school fiction reading assignments are only of value for fodder in teaching writing. The case is made outstandingly here:

The Writing Revolution
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:34 PM   #48
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I have always loved reading. My problem with high school and college lit classes is that every damn book we had to read was *depressing*. I don't mind deep but I've always struggled with depression anyway, and lit classes were definitely slit your wrist after reading stuff. Surely there are one or two good books of literature that end well?
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:52 PM   #49
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Surely there are one or two good books of literature that end well?
A bit off-topic, but I love this question.

Most books by Anthony Trollope end happily. His greatest best-seller was Framley Parsonage.

To start with something short, and not part of a series, try Rachel Ray. She does not become a TV star in the last chapter, but there's a happy ending nonetheless

Maybe someone should start a thread on your question.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:53 PM   #50
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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?
Ok, don't start talking about simplified curricula; even kids from high schools that push them to read are still going to end up hating the "classic literature" chore books and the tripe in the literature textbooks. I was one of those kids.

It takes a very long time to get over having to try to skim a book and still be able to recall such pointless details as the fact that Cosette in Les Miserables was dressing up a lead sword like it was a doll. My dad was particularly nasty about this, because he tried to get rid of all my fun reading books when I was in the 6th or 7th grade and replace them with these old Landmark books, so he could quiz me over them. And when was the last time you enjoyed a book that you knew you were going to take a very hard test over?

So under those circumstances, it was easier to just not read for a while.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:09 PM   #51
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Oh, The Scarlet Letter. Among the reasons that when my then 11th grade daughter said she wanted to leave high school and be home schooled/unschooled, I had to admit that I could see her point.

You can argue about whether high school kids should be obliged to read such a book. It didn't really kill me or her that it was part of the curriculum. The trouble was more the way it had to be taught. This was in a public high school in St. Paul, MN, so there were 25 or 30 kids in the class. You couldn't expect kids to read much of the book at any time, the language being what it is. So under the best of circumstances it would have taken approximately forever to finish the novel. Then throw in the fact that very few students ever seemed to read even that small portion, and you ended up with lectures addressed to kids who had no idea what the teacher was talking about. A very few of the Poindexters, my daughter included, were ready to discuss anything. Imagine being locked in such a class day after day. It was an education in something, but not literature.

My thinking on this is that The Scarlet Letter and other such books are taught because they were taught. I'm 58-years old, and I read The Scarlet Letter in high school. Sure, there are timeless verities, but I'm not sure this fits in that category. In my daughter's experience, it simply doesn't work to try to teach the book. Generally speaking, when things consistently don't work, sensible people try something else.

The inevitable question: Is my drop-out daughter now selling crack on the corner? No. Found her way into a very good college. Go figure.
I read Scarlet Letter when I was 15 or so. I thought it was great. Of course I didn't know it was supposed to be good for me and I was supposed to hate it. It was in the hospital library and in large type. Goes to show what limited choice can do for you
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:23 AM   #52
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I never read the scarlet letter, despite the fact i got it as a gift.

A friend a mine, movie fan, read Harry potter because he wanted to know the end. He read some other books later, as that made him realize reading could be fun when you where able to chose what you where reading, and when you are reading it.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:34 AM   #53
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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.
First, there were a lot of responses after this, so if it's already covered, I apologize.

Like vxf I have some experience from the pulpit. What I have learned is that you can't force feed education. Even young people are at different stages in their life. Some are interested in learning, some just have too many things to deal with in their personal life to be able to focus on education. They would be better off with some sort of counselling and the opportunity to return to the class room when they are ready. This however, is wrought with other issues.

If a student feels a subject or assignment is BS there is no way you can make them do it. The more adamant the teacher is the more determined to refuse it is the student's response. It is possible to walk through life without any significant amount of education, those of us who are blessed with education have, however, a hard time grasping that concept. But if you don't mind menial labor or simple repetitive tasks there are enough prospects to go around. I used to tell students that refused their assignments that I am Ok with it as long as they are Ok with a D or an F. And if they think their life sucks 15 years down the road they have forfeited their right to blame the educational system (not that it will stop them).

Correct me if I am wrong, but HS and Uni are not part of the compulsory education system. it is a free choice, with it comes the equivalent responsibility.

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Old 10-04-2012, 05:28 AM   #54
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No, I am serious. Some stuff you have to learn, fun or not. School is meant to educate...
...
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'.
These are all good points - however, I'm still at a loss to understand what someone is supposed to gain by wading through "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" rather than something more modern. In a history assignment it would make sense, as an aid to learning about victorian social attitudes, communication media, rurual economy or whatever. But seriously - why study this book rather than something more accessible that tackles the same topics without the turgid paid-by-the-word prose and simpering victorian prudery?The only thing it prepared me for was the tedium of wading through corporate mission statements and training manuals.

Something like 'Of Mice and Men' on the other hand is much more accessible - separated far enough in time to be out of immediate context but still recent enough to be acessible - and it's not like Steinbeck was a hack. Not everyone's idea of enjoyment either, but it's a a lot easier to get something worthwhile out of it.

Personally, I get the impression that there are two large chunks of the educational establishment which conspire to destroy people's involvement with the written word. One thinks that nothing is worth discussing unless it's either at least a century old or written from the point of view of an alcholic's thymus gland using the vernacular of a hebridean fisherman. The other group think that the slack-jawed retards of today can't possibly cope with reading anything more complex than the tv listings unless every single word, name and punctuation mark is explained at interminable length in short words.

Hence you get people who are so disconnected from reading and writing that they not only can't string together a coherent email without coaching, they also can't read them properly. If I had a few pounds for every time I've had to say things like "What are you trying to get across?", "are you sure that's really what they mean by writing.." or "how do you think that will come across to the people to someone who..." I would be retired by now. And I think in many cases this comes from a total lack of experience in parsing through how a skilled modern(ish) writer can assemble text to convey a desired message to a particular audience, and practicing that themselves.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:06 AM   #55
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Seeing it from the other side: I really can't imagine how bad my literary class should have been to be able to cure me from reading.
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:20 AM   #56
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Personally, I get the impression that there are two large chunks of the educational establishment which conspire to destroy people's involvement with the written word. One thinks that nothing is worth discussing unless it's either at least a century old or written from the point of view of an alcholic's thymus gland using the vernacular of a hebridean fisherman. The other group think that the slack-jawed retards of today can't possibly cope with reading anything more complex than the tv listings unless every single word, name and punctuation mark is explained at interminable length in short words.
Both attitudes- the desire to destroy people's connection with reading and the belief that the masses are slack-jawed idiots who have to be spoon fed everything- are structural to Modernism.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:25 AM   #57
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I read before being forced to read some pretty awful books. I also read to get away from these awful books. If I had not had parents who encouraged me to read what I liked to read, school would have turned me off to reading. Parents need to take an active interest in a child's reading beyond what's assigned for school. Otherwise, the child could very well end up with the "I don't like reading" because of the awful books schools thing are actually good.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:13 AM   #58
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In one lit class, we read Crime and Punishment. We were challenged to write our book review reports from a different angle, to be creative. I critiqued it as a police procedural (it really fits that paradigm very well) - I got an A on the paper, but a very pained note from the teacher telling me I'd missed the whole point of the book.

I had a point for this anecdote, but now I've forgotten it. oh, well.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:32 AM   #59
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I have always loved reading. My problem with high school and college lit classes is that every damn book we had to read was *depressing*. I don't mind deep but I've always struggled with depression anyway, and lit classes were definitely slit your wrist after reading stuff. Surely there are one or two good books of literature that end well?
Could be worse. You should see some of the gloom I had to wade through in french literature. Camus, Sartre......
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:04 AM   #60
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I was in advanced classes all through Junior High and High school. The one thing that I praise those teachers for is that they had the sense to always assign two books - one that would be popular and the other a 'classic.'

The difficulty with Shakespeaer is that not only are you learning the ins and outs about what the story represents, but you are also learning a second language, given that middle-aged english isn't spoken by native speakers anywhere any more.
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