“I don’t want this to become tedious and exhausting, but take a page of notes for every 4 pages in the book, and make sure they are deep, meaningful notes”
I just got out of a class where our teacher said that exact quote, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Yes, of course everyone is going to thoroughly enjoy the book (which is hard enough as it is) while undergoing the monotonous process of creating annotations. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that teachers consistently have expectations such as these. I am in full support of reading for school curriculum, and obviously there has to be “academic expectations”, but when you have to complete extreme assignments such as these, and there is a strict time frame, it takes away the pleasure, and instead makes reading an arduous task. This might be fine for people like me who will enjoy any book placed in front of them, but for people who need more encouragement, it is likely that they’ll stop reading completely, and resort to the ever-so-popular Sparknotes for information.
“And the moral of the story is…”
When you are reading purely to pull out annotations which look good on paper, it means that you are not reading to enjoy, nor to understand. The whole concept of “deeper meaning” in everything we read has completely defeated the purpose of there actually being deeper meaning. Hint: if the author wanted everyone to be spoon fed their answers, they would have published a better living book, not a novel. When you have a teacher who tells you what to look for, you stop looking for anything else that could be important. Quite literally, we have become a generation where everything worth finding has already been found, and we must just relearn the lessons of previous generations. But what if there are other messages our elders haven’t found!!! By promoting the certain themes and motifs that they find worthwhile, they are causing students to ignore other portions of the work, and therefore allowing hidden meanings to stay hidden– not because we are too unintellegent to find them, but because our teachers do not want us to. They’re too busy steering us in the presumed “correct” direction.
“Reading is Fun!”
No, not in the world of school it’s not. If you are anything like me, you know that a teacher has never once assigned a book because they thought that students would enjoy it. Instead, they assign reading because of its literary value. And that sucks. When you are forced to read a book you don’t like for a class, it becomes tiresome, and you start hating it. I love reading, it’s my favorite hobby, but when I have a deadline (besides my blog deadlines) it starts to become a chore. For me, this is the biggest reason that I think school is hurting our culture of reading.
“You’re really going to like this one, it’s a classic”
I’m sure everyone has heard this one before, from that crazy English teacher who loovveeessss what she does, and thinks that everyone else should feel the same way. Children are only exposed to books with his literary value and deeper meanings, which signifies that they are ignoring so much amazing literature that was written in this century. These might not have a greater moral, but instead has a modern day relevancy. If middle and high school students read books that they enjoyed, instead of a book about the war, or slavery, or civil rights from the 60s, I think they could probably pull a lot more out of it, and therefore become better people because of it. And I’m not saying that classics or moral readings don’t have value (although I did kind of make that argument in this blog post) I just think that the fact that these are ALL we read in school is taking away from a valuable opportunity.
Maybe I’m just crazy (I say hopefully)
I love reading, and I want it to be something that persists long into the future. Because of that, I really hope that the way I feel about our education system isn’t the way it really is, and that in fact school is doing a great job of promoting a culture of reading and enjoying books. I really hope so. But I doubt it, and that’s what inspired me to write this post. So, in conclusion– pick up a book of your choice, not your schools, and sit down to read something you enjoy (and while your at it, tell me what you think)