In an effort to post more frequently I am inaugurating what I will call “quickwrites”, after the popular classroom writing activity.
A discussion in the car this morning brought up the question of what would make for a better professional class of teachers. My argument, based on my fifteen years of teaching experience, is that far too many teachers lack the much-touted “lifelong love of learning”. I noted that while many teachers espouse this maxim to their young proteges, they fail to practice it in their own lives, especially when it comes to reading. Time and again I’ve had colleagues sheepishly admit that they don’t read. The most common reason I am told is, “I know I should read more, but I just don’t have time.” I find this curious because I don’t have time either, and yet I read voraciously, an average of one novel every one and a half months. Now, before you scoff at my glib self-praise, let me clarify: reading isn’t any easier for me.
I understand why people don’t have time. It’s because there are so many other things one believes one could or should be doing. Not that this wasn’t always the case, and not that electronic media don’t bewitch and entice us away from books, but reading simply isn’t all that valued. Case in point, reading at home for me is quite difficult. As soon as I sit down the dishes call, or the laundry, or paperwork of one form or another. The next thing I know I’m streaming Netflix because I just need to relax for a bit. Even naps trump reading. There is this inner voice, a channeling of the collective unconscious that is perpetually whispering in my ear: You should be using this time in the way everyone else would use this kind of time…. Put down the book! The only difference between myself and the average non-reader is that I’ve chosen to fight this voice. And isn’t that what education is about, showing children and youth how to manifest their own voice in opposition to voices (internal or external) that seek to control them?
A natural question at this point is, how do I do it. I could describe my very simple methods, but I won’t. My point is, I have made a choice to read regularly. Aside from enjoying it immensely, I avoid hypocrisy when I say to my students, “You need to be reading everyday!”