About three days into the semester he began going over the assigned reading we'd be receiving during the semester. It's a well known fact that once you enter high school you read classics until there's no tomorrow. The Count of Monte Cristo, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, etc, etc. By no means is anything wrong with this—classics should be continually read and enjoyed—the problem is that the latter never happens.
To be blunt, 90% of kids in high school do not read for fun. Ever. A majority of the time when a person carries a book around, it was spurred by a relentless English teacher who—heaven forbid—is forcing them to read a book.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about what ignites the hate that kids have for reading. It's not that they've always disliked reading. Kids in elementary school often read like it's their job. They willingly pick out books from the library and they don't need teachers on their backs forcing them to get through the book.
That then begs the question. What transforms kids into hating reading?
I have come to the (unscientific) conclusion that required reading creates a hate for reading.
No one likes to be required to do anything, no matter how much they like it. And at first the required reading is okay. In my latter years of elementary school and all of my middle school years, you could essentially read whatever you wanted as long as you were reading. In middle school you had to read 40 books every year. Although you had to read a certain number of books under each criteria (10 nonfiction, 5 classics, 20 fiction, etc.), you had a lot of leeway of what you did and didn't read.
But then required took on a whole new meaning. You had to read this book and only this book. Writing style didn't suit you? Too bad. It was a romance novel and you loathe anything and everything about relationships? Doesn't matter. Not a fan of the author? Suck it up. Not to mention most of the required reading is classics that were written in a language that is your own and yet seems like an entirely different tongue most of the time.
The cycle of forced reading of dull books presents a disdain for reading among students. They develop the sense that all books are boring and a waste of their time.
Back to my current English teacher. We're reading Ender's Game, which is not a classic by any means. It's a fairly recent book and written under the genre of science fiction, and honestly it's one of the first books I've been required to read that wasn't written a century ago. It's astounding at how well my peers have accepted the new notion of being required to read an actual interesting and intriguing book (although people are still complaining as all teenagers do, but the amount of people is far less than usual).
But I'm interested in what everyone else thinks. A small part of me doubts my "required reading creates a hate for reading" theory. If kids love to read up until they're required to do it, then why do we even have a need for required reading? If we completely bypass the method of forcing kids to read, then will they still continue to read?
Then I began to wonder though, if we don't force kids to read the classics, will they still continue to read them on their own? But then again—like I mentioned before—classics should be both read and enjoyed. So do we gain anything by forcing kids to read classics if they don't enjoy them?
Just a little thought for everyone during their weekend.
Have a fabulous day.