Alexandra

Was reading encouraged in your school?

41 posts in this topic

Nope, you are right, it is my sister who is unhealthily addicted to TV, but she also likes reading. It's very hard to get her to read books she hasn't read before, but she's starting to discover some of the books I read when I was her age, that have been on my shelf. She has difficulty knowing how to pick books that she'll like, but once she finds them, she can't put them down. I was much like that at her age, but I didn't watch nearly as much TV, so I spent more time looking for good books.

I am currently at another local private school, in the highschool. It is very math and science oriented, but doesn't have to be- I prefer the history and language studies, so I plan to take lots of classes in those subjects and purely meet the requirements for math and science. My English teacher this past year told us at the beginning of the year that each book we were reading had been banned at some point, and throughout the year we discussed why the books were banned, and what we thought about it for each book. It lead to some pretty exciting discussions, because occasionally there would be people who disagreed with the majority of the class (the majority agreed that none of the books should be banned except maybe in an individual school) We also tied many other forms of media and communication into our class. We wrote lots of poetry and short stories to go along with Haroun, we watched and analyzed the movie "Ordinary People" to go along with Catcher, and we acted out scenes and played around with character personalities in Macbeth.

Reading back through Treefrog's post, my highschool seems very much like hers, in terms of English education.

Dolphingirl

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Dolphingirl, your reading pays off! I could never have guessed from the fine quality of your writing that you are in high school.:)

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In elementary school in VA, we always were encouraged to read. During each summer it was [either required or optional,] (but my mom always made me) to read 3 books and do a book report on one. In 1st grade we'd have a book pile with pillows that we'd have time for. (but what kids did was scan the books just to be the first ones done).

In 3rd grade, especially, we read a lot in class and on our own. We'd sort of have contests on how many books one could read. I came 2nd place, reading 13 books a month, and remember thinking that I was just doing it b/c I liked it - not to compete.

I started to hate reading a few years after that when it became mandatory.

in CA at a private middle school, we'd have to read one book over summer and do a book report and a creative project on it. In Lit. class each year, we'd basically did the same thing, just with more books.

in high school, we'd have to read 2 per semester and annotate (analyzing tone, theme, figurative language, etc.) them, and be tested on it. In addition, we'd read about 2-3 books in class (this was advanced english) 3rd year HS (in regular college prep) we'd have maybe 2-3 quizes a week on the books in order to test our reading comprehension. Also, many in class discussions and assignments that had to relate to books we were reading.

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Great question, and what a lot of great answers!

My family was very tense, and we all read a great deal as a way of avoiding each other and getting into a world that felt more congenial. Mama, Daddy, my two brothers and I all read a couple of books a week, maybe three or four -- mostly romances -- from the time i was 10 till I graduated from high school. We'd come back from hte library with a stack of books 3 or 4 feet high. Daddy read history. Dick read "Desiree" at least 20 times, and I read it 3 0r 4. I read lots of sea-faring stories; Dick read baseball stories.

Daddy read heavy books. He read the Imitation of Christ on an on-going basis, wore the back off it, and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. But what he really liked was Immanuel Velikovsky -- Worlds in Collision, Ages in Chaos. I read them too, and had never seen so many footnotes. Turned out that Velikovsky was laboring in the cause of the truth, and his theories about cataclysmic changes were validated when Alvarez proved that an asteroid struck the earth, death of the dinosaurs, and all that.

My favorite book as a child was "Myths Every Child Should Know," a Doubleday Junior de luxe Club book (with full-page drawings) that was essentially Hawthorne's Just-so stories -- Medusa and the snaky Locks, Bellerophon who rode the flying horse; there were plenty others, but I was crazy about Medusa, and colored her locks green and purple. And Pegasus I colored black. The sky was "cerulean" out of the big Crayola box. LOVE that color.

I'm not sure how old I was when Miss Gretchen suggested "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," but I DO remember feeling like the top of my head was coming off, like I was about to understand something way beyond the scope of things I'd thought about before, and that was the first time, though not the last, that I felt that.

My first real taste for the GOOD stuff was not a matter of books -- it was hearing Beethoven on a phonograph record, Artur Rubenstein's OLD recording -- on 2 12-inch 78s -- of the Pathetique sonata. Reading, I was still reading "Captain Marooner" and stuff, by the bushel, mind you. Well, I did read "Wuthering Heights" -- one page a day was all I could take, it was so frightening.

Of course I read stuff for school. Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Jim Bowie, there was a whole series of them, and the Bowies came from my home town, so I was proud of them. (Rezin Bowie is buried in the Catholic cemetery there, and they used their money to have a WONDERFUL reproduction of a Rubens crucifixion put over the altar in our pretty old church; it was painted by a German who went up and down the river by steamboat, decorating rich folks' places. That painting was a huge influence on my life, for it was beautiful and moving and full of virtue -- not a scary, gnarly, ugly crucifixion, but a sacrifice that was full of love and beauty, and big as a movie-screen almost. Jesus was giving up the ghost, and it was awesome: simultaneously peaceful and terrifying, lonely and totally supported, muscular and sensitive and full of majesty.

Beethoven was like that, too. I got a piano and learned to read Beethoven. The great thing about the piano is it lets you read music for yourself. George Bernard Shaw said that, and it's true. I also read a lot of Chopin, mazurkas and preludes; there's a fair amount that's real music and not too difficult -- not to perform, necessarily but just so you could read it for yourself. Bach also. There's nothing like reading it for yourself. Even Schnabel doesn't reveal so much as the page itself does.

The great thing about reading in school was poetry. My old-fashioned teachers, especially miss Person, who had ALL the kids from 9th grade on (it was a small school) believed in memory-work, and from 7th grade on, probably, we had to memorize a poem a week and recite it on Friday. "Stars," by Sarah Teasdale. And "Trees," of course. But by 9th grade, also some great poems, Wordsworth, especially, Byron, Shelley, Coleridge, Blake. I memorized "Ozymandias" for my own satisfaction, just because I thought it was so beautiful, and I hated tyranny and so did Shelley and that poem makes you stop being afraid, and "Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments,' and "The Tyger."

We had to ALL memorize the end of "Kublai Khan,' for which I'll be eternally grateful ("A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw; it was an Abyssinian maid, and on her dulcimer she played, singing of Mount Abora. Could I revive within me, her symphony and song, to such a deep delight 'twould win me, that with music loud and long I'd build that dome of air, that sunny dome, those caves of ice! And all around should see me there, and all should cry,'Beware, beware! Weave a circle round him thrice nad close your eyes with holy dread, for he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk he milk of Paradies.'" o my God, what a great poem!)

And lots of the Ancient Mariner, and The Solitary Reaper and the Daffodils, and the Lucy poems and a chunk of the Intimations Ode ("The rainbow comes and goes and lovely is the rose. The moon doth with delight look round her when the heavens are bare, waters on a starry night are beautiful and fair, and yet I know, where e'er I go, that there as passed away a glory from the earth.")

Miss Person herself took courage from poems like these, and when push came to shove -- i.e., when the civil rights movement arrived -- she was on the right side and stood by the humane feelings and virtues embodied in these poems, stood up to threats of all kinds, and counter-attacked ("XYZ, I am ASHAMED of you") and prevented the formation of a segregation academy as long as she lived.

Her other bastion was Shakespeare -- "Friends, Romans, countrymen," and "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" belonged there too – they were all about the emptiness of a life lived badly, and embodied the feelings you'd have, and those you cared about would have FOR you, if you muffed your chance in life or saw your duty and did not do it.

Poets really ARE “the unacknowledged legislators of the race.”

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wow, Paul Parish, the way you talk about music and poetry - really gets me. I get this pit-like connection; I can really relate somehow. Though I've never heard of Intimations Ode, I absolutely adore that passage. And I can just imagine and sort of 'feel' what the old recording sounded like... :)

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artist, I think Paul is referring to Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.’ It’s easily available on the Net, I should imagine, but you could always have recourse to an actual book. Worth checking out.

Thank you, Paul, for that lovely post. I agree with you about the value of committing poetry to memory in school - I have no idea if it is the custom in classes nowadays, but if not, it's a pity.

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Paul, Miss Person and Mrs. Sullivan were sister souls.

Mrs. Sullivan's great loves were Shakespeare, Browning, Tennyson, Whitman, and Gerard Manley Hopkins (that was the unexpected one).

Like you, we regularly memorized and recited Shakespeare and other verse. I got assigned stuff like Polonius ("And these few precepts in thy memory look thou character...") or Benedick ("I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love ... ") or Browning's Duke ("That's my last Duchess painted on the wall"). Not the big heroic or glamour pieces. I much resented her approach to casting at the time. But now I suspect she knew my emotional range better than I did myself.

I think about her classes often, and I can remember a surprisiing amount of the poetry she taught (at an age when I often find myself standing in the middle of the room having forgotten what I came into it for). I'll always be deeply grateful for what Mrs. Sullivan brought into our lives.

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poetry isn't as stressed upon in school nowadays, especially memorization. Maybe a couple readings and analysis a year, but that's it.

I feel as if it's like we're sitting on a bus, just traveling slowly from course to course.

But it would be best if we could delve right into, for ex., literature. Get our hands dirty with some poetry or immerse ourselves in classics. This would also reflect on how to get right into life and not wait around for others or people to teach us.

I found Wordsworth's magnificent poem: http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1840...o#PRA1-PA170,M1

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Artist, I think you're right -- just dig in, start reading poetry, real poetry.

Like the Odyssey. I'd start there. SO good!

I realize from reading Bart that Miss Person was like the Lilac Fairy -- she was local aristocracy, and embodied the very best of the old ways: she stood for them and she stood up for them and when she said "No," bad things didn't happen. She had strength of character on a scale I have never seen since -- partly because the way of life in the old south put character on the line all the time, so you had to show it.

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The great thing about reading in school was poetry. My old-fashioned teachers, especially miss Person, who had ALL the kids from 9th grade on (it was a small school) believed in memory-work, and from 7th grade on, probably, we had to memorize a poem a week and recite it on Friday. "Stars," by Sarah Teasdale. And "Trees," of course. But by 9th grade, also some great poems, Wordsworth, especially, Byron, Shelley, Coleridge, Blake. I memorized "Ozymandias" for my own satisfaction, just because I thought it was so beautiful, and I hated tyranny and so did Shelley and that poem makes you stop being afraid, and "Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments,' and "The Tyger."
Paul, Miss Person and Mrs. Sullivan were sister souls.

Mrs. Sullivan's great loves were Shakespeare, Browning, Tennyson, Whitman, and Gerard Manley Hopkins (that was the unexpected one).

A bit :clapping:.

I had C-SPAN on the other night (don't ask) -- Bill Gates testifying to a Senate committee, probably the Education Committee. After various exchanges on how poorly or well our nation's educational system is providing qualified workers for the workforce, Sen. Kennedy asked, "Who were your best teachers? Were they the ones with lots of degrees? What kind of qualifications did they have?" After a pause, Gates gave the answer Kennedy was undoubtedly hoping for. His best teachers were those who had a real love for their subject, who pursued their interests outside of the classroom as well as in, and who communicated their passion to the students. Well, isn't that the answer any of us would give?

Where I would differ with Gates, however, was in citing first a math teacher, although Mr. Esposito did make Algebra fun. :P

The guiding principle behind my public school experience (K-12) was that school was our job. We shouldn't be expected to enjoy it. It wasn't until I was well out of school that learning for its own sake felt rewarding, as a generality. I really feel cheated.

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I was homeschooled from birth through 8th grade, then went to a private high school and on to a public college.

Homeschool: both parents strongly encouraged reading; we went to the library every week, went to "story hour" @ library, participated in library summer reading program (when I was too young to read my mother read to me so that I could participate), we also participated in "Book It!"-I think that's the name, you read books, and Pizza Hut would give you a certificate for the individual sized pizza for free. I learned to read from another homeschool mother who taught phonics. I was the oldest, my siblings learned to read from my mother teaching them with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Engelmann, Haddox & Bruner. I am impressed enough with this easy to use book that I have bought my own copy and one of my life goals is to teach a child to read. My mother would assign for me to read those "We were there at the ____" books for history; they gave a fictional first hand account of the Boston Tea party and other historical events and were much more interesting than the average history text book. While being homeschooled my mother had us take achievement tests (not sure of the actual name) and I was always ahead of my grade level in reading.

High school: assigned to read short stories during the school year and one book over summer; test on book first week of fall semester. Books we read: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride & Prejudice, The Scarlett Letter, none my 9th grade year. We read Animal Farm in 9th grade english. We kept a journal in one class. My mother required us to keep a journal and I still keep one; it helps me sort through what is troubling me if I write it down. One of our assignments in junior's literature was to bring in our favorite song on CD/tape which the teacher called "modern poetry". We also had to write papers all through high school but I don't really remember what the topics were. We had to write a group research paper-that was awful because my group did not share equally in the work.

College: I have a psychology and a nursing bachelor's degrees, same english requirements for both; had to take 2 english composition (some reading not much) and 2 literatures (general then choice of american/british/world). I hated American literature as we read Ethan Frome, As I Lay Dying by Faulkner and other books I can't remember--not my favorites.

I love to read and I think it is because my parents read to me and I had an easy time with it-no learning disability. :rolleyes: I recently moved and I got my library card before I managed to get my new driver's license!!

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[ ... ]Mr. Esposito did make Algebra fun. :)
A miraculous teacher indeed! (In my experience.) Although Arnie Arons did try to explain differential equations in a physics course by waving around a symbolic device made out of a wire clothes hanger and calling it "the tool of calculus." (I hope I'm remembering this right.) Fun .. but I never was able to use it consistently. "In one ear...." etc.. At least where high math is concerned.

I wonder how many people with predominantly artistic interests or gifts have had equal interests (and/or abilities) in math?

Tiffany, thanks for your post. Home schooling seems like such a monumental task, but so worth doing in the hands of sensitive parents. Down here it's become a tendentious political issue, since it's often associated with the drive to isolate children from all sorts of diverse cultural experiences. I'm glad yours was an introduction to what sounds like a rich educational experience in schools (both private and public) later on.

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Reading was very encouraged back when i was in school. Then, when i got to seven grade, things started gettting..mm, different. We had classes such as "Political knowledge Fundamentals", and "Marxism-Leninism:Theory", all the way from there to college. By the time i was 12, we were forced to read Karl Marx "Capital" and "The Communist Manifesto" and Engel's "Anti-Duhring" and "Ludwing Feuerbach and the end of german classical filosophy"among other books of the like. People were really reading-discouraged, IMO...

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I just graduated from High School in the US, and I'd just like to quickly add (as I ignore my mountain of college homework) that while reading was encouraged, reading works of substance (Dickens, Hardy, Tolstoy..etc...) was hardly mentioned. My mother spent more time carefully picking out books out of both Eastern and Western canons for me than my teachers did. The teachers always felt that a teenager should read about "teenage issues" which, while serious and complex, are not going to broaden my mind and take me to wonderful and distant lands.

Frankly, I have collected over 400 books over the past 4 years. Not one of them has been suggested by a teacher. When books were assigned, we had to "skim" and write an essay. Essay writing is very very predominant compared to reading, even in literature classes. I really despise it, and going back to our general lack of knowledge about culture or anything any more, I wish it were different.

Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I'm so jealous when I see people of my parents generation here talking about how they learned so much in high school and out, but we are told to "make your career as fast as you can".

By the way: I have made it a point to read a book a week, regardless of whether I end up on a deserted island, or if I need to sacrifice sleep.

just a little bit more than my 2 cents :off topic:

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[ ... ] I'm so jealous when I see people of my parents generation here talking about how they learned so much in high school and out, but we are told to "make your career as fast as you can".
I'm one who has a great deal of gratitude to my high school for exposing me a world of books, ideas, and art -- and especially for making me aware that the past, its achievements and disasters equally, cannot be forgotten if we want to live full lives in the present.

There are plenty of careers which seek and reward people who can ask important questions, think clearly, express themselves well, and who know how to learn and benefit from past experience. By the same token, there are plenty of people who care about such things, even if they keep a low profile in certain parts of the world today.

One of the pleasures of college is finding such people and getting to know them. Decades later, some of them are still among my closest friends and the biggest influences on my life. What an adventure you're embarking upon!

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