Saturday, January 24, 2009

Self-Evident Truths About Reading

Without the sunshine of literature children cannot grow as they should. We know that from books come knowledge and understanding, that they are a source of infinite joy and fun, that they stimulate imagination and creativity, that they open eyes and minds and hearts. It is through the power and music and magic of stories and poems that children can expand their own intellectual curiosity, develop the empathy and awareness that they will need to tackle the complexities of their own emotions, of the human condition in which they find themselves. And it's through books that we can learn the mastery of words, the essential skill that will enable us to express ourselves well enough to achieve our potential in the classroom and beyond.
This is of course, self-evident, says children's author Michael Morpurgo in The Times yet a high proportion of children in British schools are functionally illiterate. He suggests that the best way to bring up standards is through helping children to enjoy literature :
Give the children the books early, give them the love of books early. Let the spelling and the punctuation and the comprehension, important though they are, let them come later, and be taught in such a way that all the wonder and the magic and the fun are not lost in the process.
And of course I post this hoping that the same message will get through to teachers and educational planners here, where even more kids leave school subliterate. Say the same thing often enough ...

Also in The Times, Amanda Craig has tips on finding the right books for your child.


Rob Spence said...

This is hardly earth-shatteringly new is it? The pity is that, in 2009, it still needs to be said. We seem to have gone into reverse in education in the UK.

bibliobibuli said...

yes. it's said and said and said. and still kids (in the UK and here too) leave school all but illiterate. all you can do is keep hammering the message. some people are so dense it might take a few thousand repetitions.

much more could be done to promote reading in schools here. i spend a lot of time watching lessons and am horrified at how little is expected of kids in terms of extensive reading skills.

Anonymous said...

Exactly.. it's amazing how a bunch of squiggles on paper or screen have the power to affect lives. It's a constant source of amusement to me how that's possible, I mean it's just a bunch of symbols that would be meaningless to an illiterate person, and yet if he's not, you can manipulate his mind and thoughts, make him think, see and feel things.

With literature, you can make people DO things, control their minds from miles and miles away. You can't even see them or hear them, but all humanity, all "educated" humanity, is your playground.

It's like magic, you can write a magic spell that can make someone happy, or sad, or angry or afraid.

Anonymous said...

sharon,our education system is so structured because it's xm oriented.even as a teacher, i find the space for me to explore language and literature with my students to be restricting...just because its not what the exam question format or that is not what's going to be ask in xm is like. i wish the policy maker especially those in Edu Dept to OPEN UP and do some changes for good.