Sunday, August 19, 2007

A sick joke

Just finished reading this article by Fred Reed. Amazing. I'd think it was a joke, but I know this kind of stupidity can't be made up. It's just too asinine.

Like the step-daughter he refers to, I never needed comic books to learn to read. My parents just took us to the library. Every two weeks or so, we piled in the car, and away to the Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library. There, we'd fill our arms with books, sign them out and take them home.

This even happened during the school year. We were just reminded to lessen the armload. We could read, but studying did come first.

Here's an interesting little fact: (or not. I find it interesting). When I was in school, we had "Reading" class every day. For a good many- most if not all of my grade school years. (Sorry if I'm a bit vague, but it's been a goodly number of years).

In those primitive days, being taught by known Papists, there was a little drill for Reading class. On the first day of the year, we would be given a standardized reading test. Then the scores would be evaluated, and the class would be divided up into groups based upon the reading skill level. Normally, there would be three groups- the slower kids, the average kids and the faster kids. The groups would each choose a name- the Sparrows, the Eagles, the Whatevers.

It kinda seemed to work, which is why I suspect it's a system that died out long ago.

At any rate, tying the whole tale here together, the library trips of my childhood threw the whole system into confusion. Why? Well in my grade at least (and it could well have been the same for my siblings- perhaps some day I'll ask them), the normal breakdown was inadequate. Because while the class as a whole could be broken down into their groups, there was one child who didn't fit into any of the above. A child who was waaaay the hell ahead of the fastest kids in the fast group. A child reading on a high school level- when he was in the fourth grade.

A child whose parents took him to the Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library every two weeks, and allowed him to bring home an armload of books.

I wonder if there was any sort of correlation....?

So now young adults have to read comic books in order to learn how to speak and read their native tongue at an adult level.

It would seem funny to me, except it isn't.

Perhaps there's something wrong with our educational system. I dunno. I don't have a Master's Degree in Education, Gender Studies, or anything else. I just have this weird idea that giving kids books to read when they're young teaches them to read. I wonder if teachers today have figured that one out yet.

[Oh, and for the record: When our precocious young hero here reached high school, his reading skills had continued apace. Still miles ahead of the group. Which was actually a pain when he took a literature class. Each student was expected to read 3 books over the semester. Our intrepid hero was told by the teacher one time that he should have read at least 6. She never knew that he had done, but never mentioned them. Too much trouble to keep the required journal, since it took up time that could be better spent reading. Or hiding in his bedroom playing Risk with himself while listening to AM Radio. Our hero might have been clever, but he wasn't exactly normal.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure: The same test that ranked the intrepid young man as being the best reader in his class also ranked him as being below average in Math. I guess his parents should have taken him to the Math section of the library.]

Maybe someday an educational anthropologist will find under a rock an old fossilized teacher's book, and notice how things were done by these primitive teachers, and there'll be a revolution in the field. A revolution that will result in high school graduates being able to read books more complicated than "See Spot Run".

But I doubt it. That might make sense.

No comments: