Thursday, November 29, 2007
hooked on reading worked for me
probably the single most powerful influence that set the course of my life was growing up in a household of readers. both my parents read and read to me. as a minister, my father’s professional tools were not wrenches or calipers, but paper and ink. my mother’s background was in education. a family of modest means, we did not have lots of extravagances. but there was always money for books. as a professional educator myself, i’ve been to about 15 years worth of meetings where folks hash out the problems of the educational system in the united states, looking for the silver bullet that is going to stamp out ignorance. new math, phonics, direct instruction, technology in the classroom, experiential learning. and most importantly, more money.
however, despite years of trying new classroom management skill and curriculum strategies coupled with millions of wasted dollars, a recent report from the national endowment for the arts, reveals that “Americans — particularly young Americans — appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills.”
this certainly should come as no surprise. what is shocking is that the national endowment for the arts’ findings lifts the veil which hides two dirty little secrets that have derailed progress in american education. the report states that “In seeking to detail the consequences of a decline in reading, the study showed that reading appeared to correlate with other academic achievement. In examining the average 2005 math scores of 12th graders who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books, an analysis of federal Education Department statistics found that those students scored much lower than those who lived in homes with more than 100 books. Although some of those results could be attributed to income gaps, Mr. Iyengar noted that students who lived in homes with more than 100 books but whose parents only completed high school scored higher on math tests than those students whose parents held college degrees (and were therefore likely to earn higher incomes) but who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books.” this finding reveals that the silver bullet which will solve the educational crisis in america is not a technique or money. instead, the solution resides at home. if parents would simply take the responsibility and the time to read to their kids and instill the love of reading for readings sake, i contend quality in america’s classrooms would rise as would test scores across the board.