Reading, and the problems inherent

I think I may have mentioned that I’m working on my M.Ed. (I’ve fallen far behind on my degree collection!) One has the option, when acquiring a M.Ed., of selecting a field of specialization, and I started out mine in History. However, due to scheduling conflicts and such, I was not able to get enough hours to specialize in History.

I had to switch specializations, and the obvious choice was Reading.

I do it daily, I love it more than anything, and I really had no idea what, mechanically speaking, reading entails. I suppose rather like one can’t necessarily articulate what muscles are engaged and in what order while running, I had never considered the component parts of reading.

Of course, a reading specialization in an education program covers more than the mechanics. I’m learning diagnostic systems to help struggling readers, how to classify the miscues readers make, and how to tell whether the miscues are serious errors or minor substitutions.

The area is a good fit for me, I think – partly because it pains me to know that there are people who never learned to love to read.

I don’t mind if you just don’t like reading. Different people have different interests, different hobbies. But it kills me to know that there are people who never even had the opportunity to like it, because they were never good enough at it to get the full experience. They hate reading now because some teacher, at some point, taught them wrong.

Reading is not like playing sports or an instrument or having different levels of mathematical ability. It’s not a skill that people might or might not be good at, short of those with actual disabilities. Reading is a form of language, of coding meaning in visual symbols, just as speech is coded meaning in auditory symbols, and the human brain is hardwired to be expert at language. Everyone who learned to speak is capable of learning to read with just as much fluency. It’s not a question of innate ability, because that particular innate ability is universal. Those who are poor readers are poor readers not because they just are, but because something went wrong somewhere in their education.

So many people out there who have never enjoyed reading a book, even though they could, because they don’t know that they can. It’s agonizing.

There will probably be future rants on the subject, particularly the myth of phonics-first reading education, which has always irritated me, and irritates me more the more I come to realize just how widespread and how problematic it is.

Sometimes I feel that there’s little point in writing books when so many people are being taught, indirectly, through no fault or inability of their own, to hate reading. (Accelerated Reader, I’m looking straight at you.)


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