April 18, 2007

Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing

I love this quote by John Quincy Adams. It makes me visualize the inside of a student's head as a dam blocked by debris (which by debris I really mean pubescent ooze) which is only cleared by the reading of a book so good, so appropriate, and most importantly put in their hands by me. And the sluice is a-flowing. Plus I love the word sluice, just tell me the last time you heard the world sluice in a sentence. I know some 49ers that probably use it daily, but other that who else.
I worked today at an "alternative" high school. We are trying to put together a little lending library. This school is pretty far from the traditional high school, and most these kids either ride the city bus, or live in their car, or have never been to the public library, so they never have access to a library. Consequently they are never reading-whether for pleasure or duty, they don't know how to research, and they hate any type of reading time at school. I substitute there quite a bit, and am set up for a long-term sub for the last six weeks of school. Is it too late? Can I change their attitudes towards the most evil of teaching tools that disguise themselves in those clever little jackets with pretty pictures. I'm gonna sure as heck try.
Where to start? No really, where? What do you do with students who have spent the last 10 years creating a personal mantra that spouts the horrors of reading. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the reason for most of these attitudes is low levels of reading, or noone at home putting a book in their hand.
Due to the size of the school, you could really make the library very personal. Get to know what they really like to do. If they like skateboarding get Transworld Skateboarding magazine. Do they like anime, get some graphic novels. Find non-fiction books about a job they plan on getting. There are ways of getting them interested then the sluice will be set a-flowing. I think that is what they mean by a learner-centered media center. I know we need to consider standards and curriculum, but if the student's hate to read it doesn't matter what textbook or novel you give them or how you assess them, they'll find the cliff notes...what's wrong with cliff notes anyway. I learned more about what the heck The Great Gatsby was about from Wikipedia then the real novel.
I've been trying to collect books they will like. I'm getting stuff donated that, well let's say my grandmother refused to read when she was school, but when I took the last batch I heard one girl say that she had heard about that book and really wanted to read it. I've gotten some magazines too. Getting them into a sanctuary for a magazine is a little venus flytrap action. It's the bait. Then bam, their reading books...ha ha ha. That's why I love Harry Potter, he (well she) got more kids reading than ever before, now libraries can't keep fantasy books on the shelf. Man I wish I could write, that's how to make the bucks, a fantasy trilogy. My first purchase...a robot vacuum, I hate vacuuming.

1 comment:

Nadean said...


You are a natural blogger, the right balance between random ideas/thougts, humor and insight from real experiences.

I do not doubt that you will write, remember to keep an idea notebook/blog so that when the craziness of family, work, looking for ajob is over you have the fodder to pull out your ideas that are generated in this soup of activities and be able to reflect on a great story.