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my reading education inadequacies


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22 minutes ago, Little Green Leaves said:

Yes. I totally agree that kids should be given scaffolding and support. Like @ordinaryshoes is doing with her daughter as they read together! My parents talked to me a lot about books -- the books they were reading, the books I was reading, and that provided a huge amount of support.

I was going to try to find a time to write a response, but then read @Ordinary Shoes' response which contains some of my thoughts.

 

6 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Sorry I think I'm the one who belabored the Dickens thing. 

I totally get where you're coming from here but I think there's a difference between art, that you can interact with without much effort, and literature, which requires more attention. 

Even listening to a parent reading a book requires more effort than looking at a piece of art. 

Further, there are excellent books that can be read to young children that do NOT require effort that is beyond their abilities. I think you could say that those books teach children that literature is approachable. 

But ITA with your point that we don't want our children to be intimidated by books. I guess that I would say that if our children are provided excellent books with great stories and interesting language at their own level they won't be scared of "adult" books or "classic" books. 

Rambling here again but I think we need to keep in mind that reading is actually difficult and is not something that everyone will want to expend effort doing, if that makes sense. 

I've griped here before about my issues with the classical education *idea*. (yes, I know we don't even know what that means.) One issue is that it places a premium on reading. The idea is that everyone will become *bookish* if provided with the right books and required to read. I don't think that is actually true. 

And along that line, you don't actually need to be a reader to be an educated person. I listened to something where SWB was talking (can't remember what) and she addressed this. Not all kids will be interested in reading beyond what is assigned for school which is fine because there are many ways to be educated. We can put this in perspective by looking at the books that we see as "classics" or "essential" to be educated. These books are not old. No one thought that read novels in a vernacular language was part of an education until very recently. It's kind of ironic when you realize that we assign books to our kids that boys would have read in secret when they were supposed to be reading Latin 200 years ago. (I wrote boys because boys and girls were educated differently in those days.)

When you look at education (home and school), it is generally dominated by people who like to read. Most of us think that everyone else would actually be like us if they only worked harder or were educated about why they should be like us. KWIM? I think that we see that phenomenon in education. 

Rambling back to your original point here about art museums - I think (sorry I keep using the word "think") that it's reasonable to expect everyone to be able to appreciate good art although some people will be more interested that others. Engaging with art requires very little effort. Literature isn't the same. With art, I think that we can expect everyone to find art that they connect with. But I don't think we can expect every person to find literature that they connect with. Simply because of the work that is required to read versus passively engage with art. 

Sorry I know this was long and rambling...

My thoughts are more along the lines of I want my kids relishing in great kids' books rather than attempting to swim with books beyond their abilities to really appreciate.  There are more wonderful children's books than my kids have the ability to read that, no, I wouldn't want them reading Oliver Twist before they are actually ready to grapple with it for what it is.  I feel the same way about many proclaimed "Great Books."  I completely disagree with the premise that students should read this Great Book in 9th, that in 10th, another in 11th, etc.  (I could NEVER use a boxed curriculum precisely bc of my pretty strong opinions on this.)  Individual students might be, but 9th graders in general, no.  

I love literature.  I love teaching literature.  I love immersing myself in wonderful lit with my kids.   We enjoy it--the joy of reading what we do is key.  I personally believe that is what leads to seeing the classics as pleasurable and accessible.  They don't see them as intimidating bc we enjoy them as stories and explore ideas together.  Then, they go off on their own and read whatever they want with the ability to grapple with what they encounter with confidence. 

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52 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Sorry I think I'm the one who belabored the Dickens thing. 

I totally get where you're coming from here but I think there's a difference between art, that you can interact with without much effort, and literature, which requires more attention. 

Even listening to a parent reading a book requires more effort than looking at a piece of art. 

Further, there are excellent books that can be read to young children that do NOT require effort that is beyond their abilities. I think you could say that those books teach children that literature is approachable. 

But ITA with your point that we don't want our children to be intimidated by books. I guess that I would say that if our children are provided excellent books with great stories and interesting language at their own level they won't be scared of "adult" books or "classic" books. 

Rambling here again but I think we need to keep in mind that reading is actually difficult and is not something that everyone will want to expend effort doing, if that makes sense. 

I've griped here before about my issues with the classical education *idea*. (yes, I know we don't even know what that means.) One issue is that it places a premium on reading. The idea is that everyone will become *bookish* if provided with the right books and required to read. I don't think that is actually true. 

And along that line, you don't actually need to be a reader to be an educated person. I listened to something where SWB was talking (can't remember what) and she addressed this. Not all kids will be interested in reading beyond what is assigned for school which is fine because there are many ways to be educated. We can put this in perspective by looking at the books that we see as "classics" or "essential" to be educated. These books are not old. No one thought that read novels in a vernacular language was part of an education until very recently. It's kind of ironic when you realize that we assign books to our kids that boys would have read in secret when they were supposed to be reading Latin 200 years ago. (I wrote boys because boys and girls were educated differently in those days.)

When you look at education (home and school), it is generally dominated by people who like to read. Most of us think that everyone else would actually be like us if they only worked harder or were educated about why they should be like us. KWIM? I think that we see that phenomenon in education. 

Rambling back to your original point here about art museums - I think (sorry I keep using the word "think") that it's reasonable to expect everyone to be able to appreciate good art although some people will be more interested that others. Engaging with art requires very little effort. Literature isn't the same. With art, I think that we can expect everyone to find art that they connect with. But I don't think we can expect every person to find literature that they connect with. Simply because of the work that is required to read versus passively engage with art. 

Sorry I know this was long and rambling...

I didn't think this was rambling at all 🙂 and I'm sorry if it seemed like I was saying everyone has to love literature, or read certain things at certain ages, or that it's a failure to not love literature. I actually meant the opposite, but I must have expressed it badly! I think everyone should be given access to literature, and should be free to make what they want of it.

The art thing is interesting to me because actually it's taken me way more time to get my kids interested in art than in literature...so I don't necessarily think art is easier or more immediate! But then, that just proves your point that we are all different and that it's a bad idea to cramp everyone into the same mold.

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39 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I'm actually not much into visual art, even though I like books! I mean, it's fine... I go to museums sometimes and whatnot... but it's not a deeply meaningful experience for me the way that books are. 

 

4 minutes ago, Little Green Leaves said:

I didn't think this was rambling at all 🙂 and I'm sorry if it seemed like I was saying everyone has to love literature, or read certain things at certain ages, or that it's a failure to not love literature. I actually meant the opposite, but I must have expressed it badly! I think everyone should be given access to literature, and should be free to make what they want of it.

The art thing is interesting to me because actually it's taken me way more time to get my kids interested in art than in literature...so I don't necessarily think art is easier or more immediate! But then, that just proves your point that we are all different and that it's a bad idea to cramp everyone into the same mold.

 

I think the difference is that art can be passive. Reading can never be a passive activity. Listening to books read to you can be passive. 

 

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So many sporadic thoughts about this thread:

1. My mom recently told me that she has never read a classic.  Ever.  I didn't even have words.

2.  Nancy Drew -- I think books like these are easier than Dickens, but you still have to explain why she had to look for a payphone.  And what a payphone is.  So many of Nancy Drew's problems could be avoided today by having a smartphone.

3.  Dd16 is going into 11th grade and I am just now starting to have her answer literature questions/have discussions.  Up until now we have very much had Literature Appreciation, which I think has served us well.  She very much enjoys many kinds of literature.  Now I just need to work on helping her to understand it.  (I would have liked to have started this a year ago -- I think starting in 11th grade is a bit late, but I've been working through health problems.)  I was an English teacher in a former life and I very much saw how school kills the love of literature.

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On 8/10/2020 at 6:58 AM, TomK said:

Something worth keeping in mind is that for many of us, the push for kids to read so-called "good books" actually inhibits a love of reading. Kids don't learn to love reading because they're forced to read books that some adult thinks are good for them. They love reading because it can take them on adventures to places they've never been and to do things they've never done. Yet, if they're not free to read what some might consider crap, they're not likely to take up reading elsewhere.

 

This is what I am starting to see play out with one of my sibling's kids. The kid does not like to read, of the "Whine for 30 minutes to avoid 15 minutes of reading" variety. But all the reading he gets is from books that are pre-selected by the teacher, with the expectation of a book report at the end. So now reading is a chore. The poor kid was assigned reading on yaks, for pity's sake, and then the teacher scolded him for not taking the topic seriously. Come on, now. He was 7. How else was that going to go, lol?

The parents asked me what they could do to "make" the kid like reading.  Augh. You have to hit reset on the whole thing, to form a new association that reading != chores. I sent a couple of goofy Dog Man graphic novels, but I don't think that's what my sister had in mind when she asked for suggestions. My first choice was to send a book called "The Day My Butt Went Psycho" because a ridiculous book about butts will grab the attention of an 8 year old boy, but I don't think my sister would approve. 😆

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6 hours ago, MissLemon said:

My first choice was to send a book called "The Day My Butt Went Psycho" because a ridiculous book about butts will grab the attention of an 8 year old boy, but I don't think my sister would approve. 😆

She may not approve, but I think your suggestion would do a whole lot to fix the problem.

I mean, I know how many non-readers I've talked to who say they used to love books when they were little, but then they started having to read in school and grew to hate it. That's because of stuff like you just mentioned.

But if you let a kid read the books he or she wants to read--and yeah, throw in the occasional book you think they need to read even if it's not something they think is fun--you'll damage their love of reading far less than schools seem to screw them up.

That's just my thinking, anyway.

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7 hours ago, MissLemon said:

 

This is what I am starting to see play out with one of my sibling's kids. The kid does not like to read, of the "Whine for 30 minutes to avoid 15 minutes of reading" variety. But all the reading he gets is from books that are pre-selected by the teacher, with the expectation of a book report at the end. So now reading is a chore. The poor kid was assigned reading on yaks, for pity's sake, and then the teacher scolded him for not taking the topic seriously. Come on, now. He was 7. How else was that going to go, lol?

The parents asked me what they could do to "make" the kid like reading.  Augh. You have to hit reset on the whole thing, to form a new association that reading != chores. I sent a couple of goofy Dog Man graphic novels, but I don't think that's what my sister had in mind when she asked for suggestions. My first choice was to send a book called "The Day My Butt Went Psycho" because a ridiculous book about butts will grab the attention of an 8 year old boy, but I don't think my sister would approve. 😆

I think Dog Man was a great idea -- my kids love Dog Man. Maybe some joke books, and books about whatever he's interested in?

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8 hours ago, MissLemon said:

 

This is what I am starting to see play out with one of my sibling's kids. The kid does not like to read, of the "Whine for 30 minutes to avoid 15 minutes of reading" variety. But all the reading he gets is from books that are pre-selected by the teacher, with the expectation of a book report at the end. So now reading is a chore. The poor kid was assigned reading on yaks, for pity's sake, and then the teacher scolded him for not taking the topic seriously. Come on, now. He was 7. How else was that going to go, lol?

The parents asked me what they could do to "make" the kid like reading.  Augh. You have to hit reset on the whole thing, to form a new association that reading != chores. I sent a couple of goofy Dog Man graphic novels, but I don't think that's what my sister had in mind when she asked for suggestions. My first choice was to send a book called "The Day My Butt Went Psycho" because a ridiculous book about butts will grab the attention of an 8 year old boy, but I don't think my sister would approve. 😆

I guess it would help to figure out what, exactly, he hates about reading. Is it the book report, or the reading itself? Is the act of reading hard? Does he get bored with the books he's reading? Etc etc.

 

In my school district, a lot of the teachers let kids pick their own books -- but the kids still don't like reading, because they have to write book reports. The teachers seem to have really high and unreasonable expectations for output. I know at least some of the parents are basically just writing the book reports FOR the kids. So the whole thing is a disaster.

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6 hours ago, square_25 said:

I think HOW the books are read is worse than the specific books. I actually liked most of the books we read at school, but I hated taking quizzes on them, I hated five paragraph essays, and I refused to read the books one chapter at a time.

Based on the informal survey I've taken of people in my social sphere, that wasn't really it, though that doesn't help.

It also is a case of how there's nothing universal in education. Some people loathe the books, some hate how they're taught. It really depends on where you are and who is teaching as to which is the big problem.

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On 8/13/2020 at 12:04 PM, Little Green Leaves said:

I guess it would help to figure out what, exactly, he hates about reading. Is it the book report, or the reading itself? Is the act of reading hard? Does he get bored with the books he's reading? Etc etc.

 

In my school district, a lot of the teachers let kids pick their own books -- but the kids still don't like reading, because they have to write book reports. The teachers seem to have really high and unreasonable expectations for output. I know at least some of the parents are basically just writing the book reports FOR the kids. So the whole thing is a disaster.

 

He's a capable reader for his age.  I think the issue is that he can sniff out the agenda behind the request to read. He doesn't get books because someone thinks he might like the subject.  He gets books because someone else thinks he should spend his time reading certain "worthwhile books", and the only books deemed worthwhile are ones where comprehension is easily evaluated.   I think it's sucked the joy out of it for him. 

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2 hours ago, MissLemon said:

 

He's a capable reader for his age.  I think the issue is that he can sniff out the agenda behind the request to read. He doesn't get books because someone thinks he might like the subject.  He gets books because someone else thinks he should spend his time reading certain "worthwhile books", and the only books deemed worthwhile are ones where comprehension is easily evaluated.   I think it's sucked the joy out of it for him. 

That makes so much sense. Poor kid. I really sympathize. It sounds like sending him fun books is a great idea. This way, he'll have plenty of positive associations with reading. 

Side question, but I think you said he was 7 or 8? Do you think kids go through a change around that age where they get more rebellious, or at least more aware of adult power? When my son was a little past 7 he suddenly got really resistant to anything he saw as "school," even things he used to love. Now that he's getting closer to 9, he seems to be coming out of it...knock on wood...

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On 8/9/2020 at 1:46 PM, annegables said:

The recent threads on literature have me doing some contemplation about my upbringing. For background, I grew up in the 80s in middle class suburbia in a great school district. I had a stay-at-home mom, and both my parents are educated and value education. I taught myself to read the newspaper at 4yo. I had every reading advantage, with the possible exception that I am a very literal thinker with a strong STEM bend.

However, I read The Baby Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys almost exclusively until the 8th grade! After that, I did very little pleasure reading until I graduated college because I had zero free time. My parents never read to us nor did they suggest books that I should read. We went to the library regularly, but I was left entirely to my own devices to choose absolute drivel. It has been only in the past year that I began playing catch-up with my literary inadequacies, in part because I didnt realize I had them!

How, given that home environment, was I not more encouraged to read anything better? No Anne of Green Gables, Little House, Secret Garden, Arabian Nights, Narnia, nothing! I feel like my parents completely trusted the school system to totally provide for my education and that they were off the hook. I understand that there was no internet, but surely there were book lists containing stuff better than the Babysitters' Club??!

One of my main focuses of parenting is to remedy this in my children.

I grew up in the eighties and was educated in public schools, too. I started out on Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, but in the fourth grade, my mom insisted that I start reading the classics but not the classics that children usually read. So at that point she had me reading things like To Kill a Mockingbird. Undoubtedly, this was good for my education, but I wasn't really ready for some of the topics, like reading The Good Earth in the fourth grade. Here's a quote from Common Sense Media: "Foot-binding, daughters sold into slavery, women as concubines, and female infanticide by strangling are all presented unblinkingly."

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15 hours ago, Little Green Leaves said:

That makes so much sense. Poor kid. I really sympathize. It sounds like sending him fun books is a great idea. This way, he'll have plenty of positive associations with reading. 

Side question, but I think you said he was 7 or 8? Do you think kids go through a change around that age where they get more rebellious, or at least more aware of adult power? When my son was a little past 7 he suddenly got really resistant to anything he saw as "school," even things he used to love. Now that he's getting closer to 9, he seems to be coming out of it...knock on wood...

 

There are some brain changes that occur around 7-8. There is a lot of growing happening then, and I've heard many mothers comment that things are rough around that age and then eventually the kids snap out of it. 

My son has always been a bit of an "old soul", with some gifted/advanced stuff mixed in, so we are never in sync with what anyone else is up to.  It keeps things interesting, but also makes me really poor at giving advice on typical kid stuff! 

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