O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain!

Posted on May 4 by admin
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As a certified English and History high school teacher I know that the bane of every English teacher’s job is trying to get kids to read — especially boys.

Sometimes as a teacher I felt that if nothing blew up, or no one was murdered, then there was just no point because no one in the class would be interested. I mean To Kill A Mockingbird, 1984, heck, Shakespeare? Yeah right, I might as well be talking to a wall. I countered these ideas with the hope that if my students could put themselves through Jersey Shore each week surely their brains are going to be dying for some sort of stimulus like Harper Lee, George Orwell and Shakespeare! Right? Right?

The point I’m trying to make is English teachers: I understand your struggle.

I always wonder if teachers, before the invention of iphones, videgames and television, had the same sort of problem that teachers today have. Meaning, is the lack of enthusiam for reading because technology is killing any desire for kids to use their imaginations or is it because books don’t provide the stimulus that videogames and television can? Or is it simply because parents don’t have the time to read to their children when they’re small and therefore don’t foster a love of reading from the get go? So many questions but still the same problem. How do we get students interested in reading so that the traditional “20 minutes of silent reading” at the beginning of each English class doesn’t feel like Chinese water torture?

I think that part of the answer is to ask students what they’re interested in reading, and picking books that are relevant. There is nothing wrong with the classic books and they should definitely be taught, but I think there needs to be a better balance between the classics and newer books.

There is also an advantage to newer books. being that publishers know how challenging it is to get students to read, and how demanding teacher’s jobs are and so they create Teacher Resource Guides (or as I like to call them the teacher time savers).

While teaching is demanding of both time and energy, there is no doubt in my mind that English teachers are up for the fight of rescuing students imaginations from the grips of television and videogames. So stock your bookshelves and don’t ever hesitate to ask publishers for a hand because we’re up for the fight to rescue imaginations too.