More Than One Story…

I often hear this complaint:  “Mr.—, I’m in the middle of another book.  I can’t read a book you are assigning, too!  I’ll be confused!”  This comes up in a variety of ways, especially lately as I am tried to work in independent novel reading outside of class.  That means that occasionally, we’ll cover a short story together during class, or read a non-fiction piece, or even a play out loud together.  Instantly, the hands go up to say that they can’t keep the details straight.

I used to worry about this and feel sympathy.

Then, a colleague asked me if I thought they stopped going to movies or watching tv when they were reading a novel.  Did they get confused then?  Of course not.  My eyes widened as I realized that I was buying in to the excuses.  It irritated me because I’ve always been a big believer in holding a high standard and pushing students to reach it, but here I was lowering the bar because some students complained.

Myself, I am often reading more than one book at a time.  This doesn’t bother me, but I am probably a better reader than many of my students.  So, why did I believe this?  What made this particular bar get lowered without my complaint?  I’m not sure, but I think it is because I worry about reading more than anything.  To me, it’s the most important thing I teach.  Not HOW to read, or literary analysis, or comprehension, really.  The main thing I teach is just the simple concept that students can read and that it’s not always torture.  Everything else is worthless if a student leaves my class thinking that they can’t read, or that every book is terrible.

So, I hedge my bets.  I don’t want to put too much on their plates and make them believe they are right.  I don’t think that is a helpful attitude, though.  If another teacher was saying this about anything other than reading, I would get on them about it.  I would say, “I can’t believe you are not going to challenge them.  They will only rise to the level you expect from them.”  Which means, I need to revisit my reading policies…

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.


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