In this article written by Christina H., she addresses how students are given the “bait-and-switch” when it comes to reading. In elementary school we are, as Christina writes, “baited”. This happens with read-a-thons, bookmobiles, and other ways that make us feel that reading is fun! She calls this the bait, “That was the bait. In junior high and high school, they made the switch. I guess they heard about how drug dealers give you free doses of the good stuff until you are addicted, and then once you are hooked, they start cutting it with 50 percent baby powder or something. Actually, junkies notice when you do this. And kids notice when you swap their fun books for boring crap”. She paints quite a harsh picture, but I’m left to wonder is she right? She continues on to discuss how youngsters look forward to reading and read enjoyable books to having to “talk about metaphors and symbolism in Chapter 1,” removing all the joy that once existed in reading. She concludes her article by breaking down what she feels is going on in classrooms today that is in turn, turning adults into non-readers.
High school required readings suck: She opens by boldly claiming, “The Scarlet Letter, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Ethan Frome, Walden, Heart of Darkness, Madame Bovary, The Catcher in the Rye and The Sun Also Rises all suck”. I can’t say that I have read them all, but I can say that those that I have read have not all been amazing books! She states that most teenagers will blog about how much they hate the books they are reading and that is a problem. I find myself agreeing other on this point, why not make the book selection have the students voice, let them help pick the books they’ll be reading.
You’re not allowed to talk smack about the books: She explains that teachers fear that if students begin to express their dissatisfaction with the book more students will jump on board and question the reading. Further explaining that students can’t just state that a book was “preachy” without having to “cite” examples from the text.
Anything fun is to shallow: Christina writes, “Sometimes they let kids read one or two “fun” books (like the Hunger Games books or something) in a concession to try to keep them into reading. But they treat them like candy, a necessary evil that you should spend as little time on as possible. Maybe you give a book report, but otherwise they don’t want to waste time on that popular crap. The argument is that fun and popular books are too shallow to get much out of. They’re not going to have as many themes, or new vocabulary words, or symbols, or unusual storytelling techniques as a classic novel. And that’s probably true in a lot of cases. The point they’re missing here is that most high school classes never even get close to digging out all the analyzable stuff from a book, because of time limits or limits of the students’ reading level”.
Enjoy reading? Preposterous?: In this final point she addresses the fact that at one point reading is no longer described as fun, but, instead, made into work. Moreover, are told that they need to read for a specific purpose of “improving their mind” and if not it is a waste of their time.
The reason that this article really grabbed my attention was of because of one the pre-Practicum classes I am in. The picture I attached is of my notes in that class. The teacher doesn’t let the students take home the books, so she reads to them in class. Her reason being that she knows they will not read at home. However, if you look at my notes the majority of the students have checked out of the classroom, they are in their own world. This brought the question that is starred in my notebook to mind, how do we make students who hate reading, read? After reading this article I found myself asking did these students enjoy reading at one point and do they now hate reading because they fell victims to the “bait-and-switch” Christina refers to in her article? How do we as teachers prevent the “bait-and-switch” from happening? How do we make reading enjoyable throughout the secondary years? I’ll be exploring this topic more in depth and hope to post more information in the future on this topic, for now I simply am stumped.