Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Topic: Reading in the High School

Purpose of this blog: Reviews of interesting ideas in past professional English education journals.

10-second review: Reasons for teaching reading in the high school.

Title: “Toward a Realistic Rationale for Teaching Reading in Secondary School.” W.S. Palmer. Journal of Reading (December 1978), 236-239.

Summary: The one reason that stands out for me is the following idea: “Textbooks too difficult for many students to comprehend serve as the principal source of school learning.”

Comment: The Directed Reading Assignment (DRS) is designed to help students deal with difficult-to-read material. In the Search feature at the top of this blog, type DRA and you will find an explanation of the Directed Reading assignment (DRA) in one of my previous blogs.

I think there is an even more important reason to discuss reading in the high school with your students. You just might help them become more efficient readers. All my life I read everything, from the first sentence and page to the last sentence and last page. No one ever told me I did not have to read everything from the first sentence and first page to the last sentence and last page. And the results of my forcing myself to plow through every page of every chapter in every book, was that I often yawned and quit reading altogether.

And then I discovered Francis Bacon’s famous advice published in 1625 that I paraphrase: Some books are to be tasted, or read in parts; some books that don’t take much effort can be read rapidly and all at once. Some few books must be read slowly and carefully all the way through from first sentence and first page to the last sentence and last page. [Italics mine RayS.]

It was not until I was in graduate school that I learned the truth of Bacon’s advice. I will tell you about what happened in my next blog. It changed the way I read forever.

To be continued.

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