Saturday, June 22, 2013

A legacy

I read a comment here that talks about students reading stories aloud:

    I recently substituted for an English teacher who, in team with another, was having a high-school class read "The Gift of the Magi." First, "reading" it means exactly that--the students divided into groups and took turns reading aloud. (Of course, this was only one day--I assume the next day featured a discussion of it.) One student read like a first-grader; another read rapidly and correctly, but with absolutely no inflection or pause for punctuation. Their comments before indicated they understood the use of irony, and when I interrupted to ask a question they seemed to understand the story. But they obviously had no ability to translate the words into the emotions behind them. An O. Henry short story and the minutes of the council meeting were all the same to them.

I, too, have students who read like this: they are able to read, but when they read, they pause at the wrong places, or have no inflection, no expression. And I realised that I probably can thank my mother, who read to me when I was a child, for showing me how the printed words on the page can come alive.

I don't remember her reading to me, but I know she did -- in fact, she says I learnt to read on my own, picking it up naturally, as she read to me and pointed out words in my books -- and it was probably through her example that I learnt the ebb and flow of the written word, the beauty and lyricism in it. How it can sneakily reach out and grab you by the throat with the emotions cleverly weaved into it.

So I have a lot to thank my mother for, I think. Because reading still remains my greatest joy to this day. It's no wonder kids don't like to read if they can't hear the words come alive in their heads when they do so.

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