Reluctant readers…Recalcitrant Teachers?
The readings for this week present ideas that are common to those studying and working with literature. We are cognizant that the ways in which students are reading is changing, and yet we seem to be placing blame rather than working to change the problem. As the Kajder readings discuss, literacy must be interpreted as our ability to communicate. How we are able to communicate is our way of participating effectively in our world. As teachers, we seem to have numerous anxieties about the new manner in which our students are reading. To clarify: this new manner appears to be far more digital, graphic, and, well, busy. Students appear comfortable multi-tasking, even as the act appears to slow and diminish their work. How we read is changing, and therefore how we approach teaching literacy must continue to develop. Kajder describes the futilities faced by students who categorize themselves as poor readers, who are not focusing on what they believe is real reading. It is this exact problem we need to clarify as educators, especially in the early grades. Our students must be comfortable with the platforms we teach from so that they can develop those connections that make text ever more important. The classics are by default classic pieces of literature. We can fear their meaning and importance being lost amongst the push for graphic novels. However, we can also ensure that students are given the skills to read and therefore to be comfortable at a later age with mature, classical novels.
Literacy has a huge role outside of society and it is here that we may very well have our best chance at removing anxieties. Encouraging group reads, promoting “good reads”, and working to model behaviors of readers can help lessen the strain in attitude felt by many students. In examining the articles about Google, and its frightening hold on our society, Google serves to communicate to us ideas. Whilst we may not interpret all of this data, we are aware that it is present for us. We have instant access to numerous answers, and yet we may not have the tools to know what is accurate. By recognizing Google as a tool and not the engine itself, we can see that it has the capacities to help us. Kajder notes that tools are important resources for educators. Google may be making it more difficult to teach the art of writing a research paper, but it remains a valuable tool for the promotion of exploratory means.
The idea that we are “how we read” is concerning to me. It seems to base our level of literacy on generally accepted frameworks. There are too many students who struggle every day with reading and processing disabilities and who work extremely hard to communicate ideas. To make the statement that “we are how we read” seems to make a huge generalization about a huge population. We cannot be “how we read”, but we can be how we use our resources to communicate our ideas. By accepting that the way we read is changing, we then may focus on ways to bring literature to future generations. There are new values that we can place on learning. As the readings mention, these new values have to have an appreciation for the developing nature of the brain. Cascio’s article notes that “the amount of data we’ll have at our fingertips will be staggering, but we’ll finally have gotten over the notion that accumulated information alone is a hallmark of intelligence”. It will still be our ability to use this information, to argue with this information, to defend, dispute, and discuss this information in our lives that will matter. In the end, it will be our reluctance to change that will keep our students reluctant. Kajder’s approach to literacy is refreshing, as she reminds us of the need to use multiple methods of text to ensure our students’ needs are met.