Sunday, July 1

You Are Required to Read This

There were plenty of books over the years that I was required to study for school. When I was young, they were read to my class by the teacher. When I was older, we were assigned certain chapters to read or just told to get stuck in and finish it ASAP. Great.

I never had a problem with being read to in class. Even if it was boring, it was equal to the days of Biology when the teacher would blow the dust off the VCR, turn off the lights and show us a film on a block television residing on a wheelie cart about insects . All I had to do was sit there with my eyes glazing over. It - was - awesome. No, what I had a problem with was what came after.

Tearing books apart chunk by chunk is fine (well, I'm not keen on it in the literal sense) but not when you're being told what to analyse. To me, it's akin to saying, 'Look at this beautiful rabbit; the way it twitches and leaps and lives. Glorious! Now, cut it open and we'll see how its innards work.' Isn't that appealing?

When I wrote about adapting books into films I mentioned how books I love being made into movies makes me nervous...but books I thought were so-so I'm keen to see as a flick. I feel the same way about studying books in school. I don't like the idea of children being forced to tear open a book I love and dissect it until the very thought of it repels them.

I'm one of those people who needs to be self-motivated. If someone tells me to do something, I switch off. I've never had to dissect a book or poem or play in school that I then went on to love because of that experience. If I read something in class and we discussed it briefly, there was a chance. Cutting it apart and being told what it meant? No. I'm sorry, 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening' but...I hate you.

Do you know what would be great for kids to analyse? Bad books and why they suck. Of course, "bad" buckles down to opinion but so does the reverse. Are teachers open to students talking about why they think certain books suck? Sure, it might just sound like the premise for pupils to be rebellious and rude but I wish I had learned and been able to discuss what makes writing better and worse past grammar. Particularly since my grammatical skills still aren't stellar.

In conclusion, I'd like to know what texts you were introduced to through schooling that you did come to love. Please share!


Tina B said...

When I was in school, I only really liked reading paranormal books. Unfortunately, we did not read any of those. One I really enjoyed was The Diary of Anne Frank. I didn't like The Hobbit in school, but as an adult, I can appreciate the writing a lot more. I agree with you, I do not like that students are forced to read certain books by the state. I think you have a good idea about students picking apart "bad" books instead. :)
Thank you for sharing, Keri.

Jae said...

I took AP English my senior year of high school and got to read a lot of books. Most of them went over my head so I'll probably end up re-reading them. But I agree, being forced to read things that are above your level and also dissecting things to death doesn't seem like a good plan.

Emma Michaels said...

I enjoyed reading books in school because it was the only time anyone other than me at my school cracked open the pages of any book but always felt like books I was forced to read were put in a separate category than the ones I love. It really ruined it for me when the teacher kept getting angry with me for reading ahead. Seriously, who wants to wait a WEEK per chapter for a novel... *head desk*

Sydnee said...

I hated just about every required book ever. It was only when I began homeschool that I started encountering classics that I liked... "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" comes to mind. It was well written and beautifully relevant to what I was going through. But "The Scarlet Letter"? "Angela's Ashes"? NOO. I'd rather chew glass.

I hate obligatory reading because when the teacher says it's a 'classic' I translate that to mean, "Read it because it's old and old things are awesome."