A Year of Reading: Reading is Learning
In Dr Kornel Kossuth’s third post for us as he continues on in his challenge to promote reading for pleasure during the school day, he discusses the moment he realised that taking the time to read was an integral, invaluable part of his lessons.
It’s funny how little things can bring about a change. The fact that the school is focusing more on reading and me writing this blog have led me to reassess reading as an activity.
Times were, when you told the pupils to read, it was because you weren’t sure what else to do with them, when you were at an odd end in your teaching. It was a fill-in activity, not necessarily a valuable part of an English lesson.
Lessons were all about writing stories, speeches, articles and letters, analysing poems, learning vocabulary and trying to make sense of comprehensions. This was the important thing. And yet, whenever a parent asked what they could do to help their child in English, I would say, “Does she (or he) read?” I was an unwitting hypocrite of the first order.
Although I have always put a special emphasis on reading aloud (a skill not developed sufficiently in my view), this was more for the public aspect of the reading than for the text or the enjoyment of the reading itself. And the class reader was more an embarrassing appendix than a central part of the term’s work.
I have come to realize that reading is in and of itself a vital activity. A lesson spent reading, be it quietly to yourself or out loud, is not a lesson wasted, but a lesson spent in one of the most engaging and fundamental activities in language.
Putting this realization into practice has not been hard. Once the switch flicked, so to speak, I look forward and make time for sharing books and reading. Where in the past we’d never finish a class reader and remain stuck somewhere in the fourth chapter, we are now progressing through the books much better – and it is important for me that we finish them. And this enthusiasm and urgency have infected the pupils, who are now much more immersed in their readers.
Even my Year 8s are hooked on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and want to know how the story continues – truly a dream!
Kornel Kossuth has loved English since a young age and began teaching it to children ten years ago. Before turning to teaching, he was a lawyer and (briefly) a diplomat. A published poet, poetry busker and poetry blogger, he is also the author of a number of English resources and is currently working on textbooks for years 7 and 8.