Saturday, January 12, 2008

Reading Class

I wonder if I am teaching at a public school and the principal suddenly checks on my reading class. There she would find some of my pupils reading their books behind the movable whiteboard, lying on the cement floor and some would be reading their books with their feet resting on the armchairs. I wonder what the principal would do or say. Hmmm…maybe I won’t last a month because I will be fired immediately for the reason that I can’t manage my class.

During my elementary school days, our English teacher would always, like a broken vinyl record player or a skipping CD, recite the rules on reading: Back straight, the book held by two hands at a certain degree, read with your eyes and not with your lips, no slouching, and no talking. These are the things that I remember about my grade school reading classes no stories, no authors, no poems, nothing, just these rules. So, I and my classmates--this is hindsight—may unknowingly understood reading as something done physically like manual labor or like an industrial arts activity with those procedures and steps—reading became a tedious, dull, mechanical, dreary activity. So, most of my classmates learned to read but they did not learn to love reading.

Now, I’m a teacher and I have hindsight not to commit the same mistakes my traditional reading teacher did (I don't blame her, by the way.). I now know, and I will compromise anything within reason to make my student read. If they want to read doing a headstand, I would allow it as long as I see that they are enjoying their reading. If they are debating, shouting, discussing about what they are reading, I will not and I do not stop them. I just tell them to keep their voices down.

It is becoming more and more difficult to make children read and if breaking all these military like, inane and useless rules could encourage my students to read, I would break them with no questions asked, no seƱor, habla de cartolina de kwaderno de artista, I would break them.
So, what would a public school principal do…nah, the question is what I would do if she forces me to adopt the traditional way of teaching reading. Here’s what I would do, I would kidnap the principal and then force
her to read a copy of Dostoevsky’s book and tell her to read it sitting back straight, two hands holding the book, read with the eyes and not with the lips….I am sure she would be dead before she even finish the first page.

It’s good that I’m teaching at my church school; I can experiment.

No comments: