Those of you willing to Read this already know it… those of you that aren’t, have perhaps been wronged somehow.
It seems almost redundant asking you to read the following article, you read all the time anyway.
The phrase “preaching to the converted“ comes to mind.
“Dream Library” – 1995
Yet maybe, just maybe there are others of you who aren’t big readers, and have come here looking for images (which we both love obviously), and though disappointed are curious enough to sidestep that last, perhaps alien, turn of phrase and continue on a little further.
Over a year ago Anne Stone and Jeff Nichols wrote the following piece – Dear Governor/Save A Love of Reading – published on the New York focussed blog www.schoolbook.org – it discussed the way quantitative, standardised testing of qualitative processes such as reading (as in Art & Design for that matter) is impoverishing our children’s futures by destroying any chance of them developing a love of reading.
And despite this discussion happening on the other side of the Atlantic, it’s happening here too.
In it they said:
“We cannot help but see a connection between the reductive approach to literature exhibited by the test and the reading program in place in the classroom…
… the teacher [our son’s teacher had no choice in adopting this curriculum. It was dictated by the Board of Ed’s obsession with test scores] admonished that our children should under no circumstances read books either above or below their assigned level, because that would hamper their progress. She also frowned upon their reading a book more than once, presumably because it wastes valuable time children could be spending improving their reading strategies on new books.”
It makes me want to scream…
“This is how our love of literature was born: by having committed to memory our favorite books, by internalizing the rhythms and cadences of their language. And yes, also by tackling books that were too hard*, experiencing the excitement and mystery of partially glimpsing visions we would only possess in the distant future (long after the spring testing season).
By turning the experience of reading into something that is to be quantified, both in the way it is taught and the way it is tested, our son’s curriculum ensures that children will learn to regard reading as a chore and not as one of life’s great pleasures.
In his recent State of the State address, Governor Cuomo said he wants to be an advocate for children.
Let him lobby to protect their natural curiosity and love of learning from the onslaught of anti-intellectual, ends-oriented teaching practices forced on our educators by over-emphasis on standardized tests.”
Parents and none parents should begin to fear for the future as your children will now stumble into it blindly, with no guidance from the wealth of human story now locked behind the tick-box “one right answer only” attitudes of government “advisory panels” (nobody even elected these people!) and the slamming doors of abandoned libraries (if you listen carefully you can hear the echo of those doors closing, it sounds the same as the clang of opportunity and hope slamming shut too).
Your children are being taught just enough to be able to read limited instructions (like indentured slaves), but they will never become fluent enough to read the aspirational and uplifting books we read unless this changes.
Now go back and read the full article…
“The Old Flat (lair of an avaricious reader)” – 2007
The above linked article was first seen on Twitter – via @nancyflanagan
*I’d read Treasure Island, The Count of Monte Christo and others before heading up to high school… it was the only thing that saved me from giving up and submitting to the will of the playground bullies and becoming the one thing I didn’t find comfortable – being normal… average… another bloody number.