Thursday, February 14, 2019

Joan doesn’t agree with today’s philosophy of reading—guest blogger Joan Turrentine (former teacher)

“Recent educational philosophy has been that it doesn't matter WHAT children read as long as they DO read. I am glad I grew up and went to school in a day when schools believed that it matters WHAT students read. My mind and memory are full of quality literature, classic poetry, thought-provoking stories and poems. I became familiar with and developed a useful and precise vocabulary and a familiarity with proper English language syntax. I observed in countless realistic situations (in reading assignments) how real people act and how people interact with other people and build happy and successful lives. I read the thoughts of some of the greatest thinkers of the past and learned how they organize their thoughts, thereby learning HOW to think and reason. Because of this background, I often read FB posts, have conversations, or read other media and recognize cultural references, recognize faulty/logical reasoning strategies, understand some of human nature.

I feel bad for many of today's elementary school kids who only read about teachers who are aliens, students who are wizards, and other such imaginary life situations. What preparation for real life does that provide? What thought processes does that develop? How does that help them discover their own values in life? And then in post-elementary school they read such dystopian literature as the Hunger Games series, the Unwind series, or numerous other books with unrealistic settings which provide no opportunity for observing how people might handle real life situations and what consequences might be expected to result from actions. There's nothing wrong with any of this literature if students want to read them on their own; but I believe the schools owe them better than that. These students won't be culturally literate as adults - recognizing references to the classic literature, philosophy, or history of the ages. They won't have had the opportunity to develop their own sense of how to live successfully in this world. What they have read will not have helped them develop values to help them live successfully and happily. I so strongly believe that it DOES matter WHAT children read.”

I  agree with Joan’s concern and philosophy, I just don't think I had all that much "quality" reading material--at least my mother used to complain it wasn't as good as what she had in the 1920's.  All I cared about as a child was horse and dog stories. I enjoyed reading from encyclopedias and preferred to write and illustrate my own stories. My grandmother gave us subscriptions to Jack and Jill, hardly sophisticated or difficult information.  We had a lot of magazines and the local newspapers (and maybe one from Chicago). Mom belonged to the “Book of the Month” club, which was definitely considered “low brow,” but I enjoyed looking through her fiction.  I learned the names of the classics, by playing the card game "Authors" , and by high school, the literature text books were just excerpts grouped by era or genre. In college I was a foreign language major, so I had NO American or British literature. I was definitely a forerunner for today's poorly educated students!  Today I belong to a book club, and I’m grateful for my well educated reading friends—but I’m still not educated in the type of literature Joan recommends. And of course, not having grandchildren (she has many), I haven’t even heard of the series she writes about.

No comments: