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edu180atl: joel mcelvaney 3.12.12

When I asked a classroom of thirty 17 and 18 year-olds how many of them read for pleasure, only four students raised their hands.  I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was.  I love reading.  It is one of the reasons I got into teaching:  to share my love of reading with others.  Getting lost in a good book is a simple pleasure that I have enjoyed my entire life.   Reading a work of fiction helps us to discover ourselves and to connect with the fabric of human experience.  During my twenty years as a literature teacher, I have always had a tacit goal for my students, a goal that cannot be found in the list of state standards:  I want my students to love reading, to be lifelong readers.  Most of us enjoy reading for pleasure at least until middle school; then, for many, that love of reading dies, often hastened by teachers who are focused on other objectives.  The results of my informal poll have me looking for ways to introduce pleasure-reading into my classrooms.  It won’t be easy–with all of the standards to meet and the emphasis on test-scores–but I know it will be worth it.

About the author: Joel McElvaney is high school literature teacher and father of a 10 and 15 year-old.  He enjoys integrating technology into his lessons and integrating fun into his life. 

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Joel:

    I am not surprised. The hard grind of school doesn’t give students really any time to read for pleasure. My daughter, a senior in Atlanta, is an avid reader. However, she has almost no time, except for an hour or so on Saturday, to read for pleasure. Schools inundate students with reading the curriculum they demand and leave little space for student choice. I think our culture does not promote pleasure reading, even the newspaper. In addition, we throw other reading at them, tedious history books, etc., that leave students feeling pretty numb. So when they end school are we surprised?

    Hey, I applaud your efforts to try and include more reading in your curriculum. I can only imagine it will help. Hope you can create happy readers.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Bob Ryshke
    Center for Teaching

    March 13, 2012
  2. Joel, Great post. Just yesterday, I wrote a short blog post reflecting on discovering Alan Turing’s list of books he checked out as a junior high school student. Alan Turing was one of the founders of the field of computer science, and it was really interesting to see how his interest in this field was reflected even in his book choices as an adolescent. It makes me wonder what might happen if we encouraged all of our students to keep similar lists?

    March 13, 2012
    • John, can you crosspost your post here? I bet a lot of people would like to read that.

      March 14, 2012
  3. Kelly Clinch #

    Joel: Check out the book Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. He has the same passion for this topic and has lots of practical ways to bring back the love of reading in your classroom!

    March 13, 2012
    • Joel #

      Thanks, Kelly. I am reading it now!

      March 14, 2012

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