Yes, I am on a rampage. I grew up reading. My school was rural and small. I only had about 13 in my class, but I read. I read almost every book that sat on the shelves in my classrooms of Bellflower Elementary. I read what was available.
This morning I started looking up information online and I realized that I miss reading. And I read. I miss reading novels. I miss reading magazines. I miss reading for fun.
After becoming an adult, reading became more focused on need than fun. Reading filled a purpose more than it did down time. But reading provided me the skill that was so necessary to manage the complexities of adulthood.
Now, the skill of reading is becoming lost. Or maybe not. As I was on line this morning, I realized I was reading. I was using my learning skills that started me reading and searching for information. I used a different format–the world wide web, but I am reading.
The epiphany then caused my mind to leapfrog (a term I use to explain how ADHD causes my brain to jump from one thing to the next) to my concern about how kids today do not know how to read.
Of course our schools are showing students how to identify the characters in the alphabet and how they make words and how to read them out. But I see major ommissions that we are not doing in our schools–and remember, I am a retired teacher.
As students in the 1960s one of the skills taught was how to use a textbook. How to use a dictionary. How to ask questions that taught us how to move from one word to the next to the encyclopedia–yes, that set of about 26 books that all families thought they had to own.
I have taught school. I know that our curriculums are so focused on making sure the students are “learning” according to the scores on all kinds of standardized testing. But, and this is huge, but are our students able to use the knowledge successfully on their own–can they study independently.
During my teaching at Wentworth Military Academy, a private company was allowed to come in and provide individualized training on how to read, how to speed read, how to improve study skills. Unfortunately my long term memory has lost the name of this company from Massachusetts, but I remember the lessons.
Then during the 1990’s I was fortunate to join forces with the Orton Dyslexia Society, now known as the International Dyslexia Association today. I attended the national conferences and was trained in the Orton-Gillingham methods for learning language.
I can assure you that very few teachers today are pressured to teach the study skills that takes the basics of reading and pushes students to the level of becoming effective, successful self learners.
What happened this week? I worked with a very small group of rural American elementary students. Every time I step into a small group of kids, I am saddened how poor the skills for learning are evident. We must teach the kids to read, and with that comes teaching them how to study–how to learn.
Yes, there are methods to use that work. But instead of focusing on successful scores on standardized tests, focus on the skills. The end result will be successful adults who can adapt in the ever-changing world.
READ! Read anything, everything whether in the form of a handheld book or whether it is on line. Read. Think. Study. Ask questions. Think and then read some more.
In today’s world the immediate availability of all forms of texts is at our fingertips. Access it. Read it. Ask questions. Think and then read some more. Teachers, stop and teach how to read. Teach how to study.
And new teachers, if you have insecurity about how to do it–read. Ask the experienced teachers that students seem to love what they do. Remember your own learning expeirences in your favorite classroom and analyze it. I lay odds that the teacher there was demonstrating how to learn.
READ! And then read some more. It is critical to the well-being of our global community in virtually every facet of our lives. READ!