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my little pony
08-11-2011, 03:07 AM
i think agal should make her children do book reports on what they read so that it is more interactive. also the followup posts would be funny.

Matryeshka
08-11-2011, 03:38 AM
Yes. I am an English teacher, and I strongly believe that the declining grammar, spelling and vocabulary skills of kids today have a great deal to do with the fact that many kids simply do not read for fun anymore... but I would rather have kids watch TV all day than read something like the Twilight series.

I'm an English teacher too and I strongly believe that "declining grammar, spelling and vocabulary skills" are largely a myth. In any time in not just American but most of Western society, a VERY small percentage of the population excelled at any of these skills. What's new is the constant complaint that somewhere, sometime there existed this nation where everyone read the paper, spoke correctly and all children respected authority. What has changed is communication--English teachers all over can instantly bitch to each other about how students just don't understand indirect objects, which gives the illusion that standards have gone down and students are lazier.

While I agree that Twilight is laughably bad, it doesn't bother me when students read it. Any reading can be the gateway to better books. A student says, "I enjoyed Twilight." Teacher asks, "What did you enjoy about it?" Student says, "I liked that it was dark." Teacher says, "Try Wuthering Heights." I doubt I'd have read great books as an adult if I hadn't enjoyed less-than-literary books as a tween.

UMBS Go Blue
08-11-2011, 03:41 AM
i think agal should make her children do book reports on what they read so that it is more interactive.

That's actually an interesting idea - either book reports, a journal of one's thoughts as one reads a book, or at least several bullet points of key events in every chapter.

When I was watching Jeopardy the other day, I shuddered when I realized that I remembered little of the novels I read in high school.

In my undergraduate and graduate studies (to the extent I had the time to read every single textbook page or other assigned reading), however, I made my own summaries/cliffs notes of each reading assignment. This helped me actively process what I was reading, understand and retain what I was reading, and recall critical details during exam periods more easily without cramming. I still do this at work when I have to draft memos, presentations, or research reports based on multiple interviews, third-party sources, volumes of data, and proprietary analysis: take notes and cite readings as you go, then analyze/re-process them into one coherent memo/recommendation.

Prancer
08-11-2011, 03:45 AM
i think agal should make her children do book reports on what they read so that it is more interactive. also the followup posts would be funny.

Oprah had a stepmother (I think) who made her do a book report a week during her summers. Oprah thought it made her love reading, which amazed me, as I can't think of much of anything that would make me hate it more.

dramagrrl
08-11-2011, 03:47 AM
What has changed is communication--English teachers all over can instantly bitch to each other about how students just don't understand indirect objects, which gives the illusion that standards have gone down and students are lazier.
Disagree. I think students have gotten lazier, at least in my province. New policies which focus on "student success" at all costs and allow students to complete ignore the idea of deadlines without any consequence have produced a generation of increasingly lazy students. (And I'm not speaking as an out-of-touch old person - I was in high school not all that long ago myself.) I do agree to a certain extent that it is communication that has changed more than anything, and the Internet, text messaging, etc. are more to "blame" for that than the lack of reading, but I do stick to my point that I think students, on average, are much weaker writers than they were even five years ago, and that this is partly correlated to the fact that they either don't read, or only read trash.


While I agree that Twilight is laughably bad, it doesn't bother me when students read it. Any reading can be the gateway to better books. A student says, "I enjoyed Twilight." Teacher asks, "What did you enjoy about it?" Student says, "I liked that it was dark." Teacher says, "Try Wuthering Heights." I doubt I'd have read great books as an adult if I hadn't enjoyed less-than-literary books as a tween.
My issues with Twilight aren't just about their lack of literary merit, although Stephenie Meyer is a laughably bad writer and her editors don't seem to know how to fix her problems. I actually think they are detrimental in many ways and have issues with the misogynistic content, the casual portrayal of teenaged girls in ways that are supposed to be positive but are actually enforcing dead, negative stereotypes, and many other problems. I don't allow students to bring these books through the doors of my classroom. They can (and do, I know) read them elsewhere, but not in my English class.

jlai
08-11-2011, 04:07 AM
Oprah had a stepmother (I think) who made her do a book report a week during her summers. Oprah thought it made her love reading, which amazed me, as I can't think of much of anything that would make me hate it more.

I read a lot of English stories when I was 12 or 13. But when my English teacher asked me to do monthly book reports, I never bothered to turn in anything decent. It just became "work".

OTOH, when we were reading Tale of Two Cities and Pride and Prejudice, I wished I had a lively discussion with someone who had different interpretations of the book than mine. But instead, the teacher taught us the "official interpretation" and everyone else bought it. :(

ETA: pleasure reading...I love to read for pleasure but I don't always force myself to read critically when I do so. Pleasure reading to me is like eating my favorite food but skipping over the...lima beans (I hate lima beans). For that I need English teachers, who will force me to read stuff I don't normally read or make me contemplate upon my reading in a more thorough or formal fashion.

Vagabond
08-11-2011, 05:38 AM
Hmm, well, the the stats are for 14-17 year olds and I would consider much of that group very young

:confused:

What stats? If you have statistics that show that a significant number of fourteen-year-olds (or younger children) in the United States worked in factories in the late 1940's, please share.

By the way, according to this (http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/whaples.childlabor) article,


the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 prohibited the full-time employment of those 16 and under (with a few exemptions) and enacted a national minimum wage which made employing most children uneconomical.

but the author also notes that child labor was on the wane in the U.S. well before the passage of the Act.

Japanfan
08-11-2011, 07:03 AM
In general, reading requires a higher level of language skill than watching TV (speaking and listening). And as such, it goes hand in hand with writing. I don't have any research to cite, but it would seem only logical that reading builds more connections in the brain.

Although of course what you read and what you watch on TV makes a difference. It is less challenging mentally and in terms of language skills to read Harlequin romances than follow a fact-packed historical documentary or debate on political issues on TV.

TV is a social or family activity, but for the most part more passive than reading in terms of brain activity. And thanks to the internet and forums like FSU, reading and writing have attained a social dimension. One of the reasons I spend so much time here is that there are so many opportunities to learn different things (by read8ng).

I'm basically opposed to TV in the way that it is used these days: as a babysitter for kids, as a time-passer for adults, and as a background noise. With regard to kids, the constant exposure to advertising is a real issue as much is specifically targeted at children.

With regards to adults, it can be both a pacifier and an addiction. I have a friend who for various reasons (including health issues) spends about 95% of her waking life in front of the television. It has basically turned her brain to silly putty. She is such a bright and funny person, but I've been watching that person disappear. She is losing the art of conversation and losing the capacity to relate to others.

Reading has certainly isolated me, but I also think it helps to keep my brain quite sharp. I won't read 'anything' just to read, I am quite fussy about my books.

I have no issue with planning to watch a show on TV or a movie - for entertainment or for education - and then turning the TV off. But the TV is the center of many people's lives today and entire evenings and week-ends are spent in front it. It is one of the most acceptable addictions in society.

I hate having a TV on in my space when I'm not watching it. I find it intrusive. Something has to occur in the brain for it be normalized in the environment and I'm sure that 'something' is good or healthy.

The internet is also an addiction, but if you are reading, writing and learning, you aren't numbing yourself mentally.

Angelskates
08-11-2011, 07:26 AM
i think agal should make her children do book reports on what they read so that it is more interactive. also the followup posts would be funny.

I'm still waiting for a poster board display on hermit crabs, along with a video presentation of course ;)

RockTheTassel
08-11-2011, 08:06 AM
My hope was by reading more, their vocabs would improve as would their writing. I should say they're both A students. But my youngest is so good in math, I worry about his language arts skills getting left behind. I was hoping reading more would assist that.

One of my close friends has always been an avid reader, and she often reads between 50-125 books a year, usually a range of contemporary fiction, classics, and non-fiction. Despite this, she's always excelled in math and struggled with English and writing. Her brain just comprehends math better than language arts subjects. While people who are good at English tend to be drawn to reading, I don't think a love of books helps kids significantly enjoy or excel at language arts classes.

However, I think that a love of reading does help kids have better study skills, especially in college when so much reading is required.


Now, I do want to confess that I haven't been pushing the classics wrt reading materials. We're probably pretty lowbrow relative to others here. I was going for pleasure reading above grade level. And again, he really took to that--I just don't know how much if any benefit accrued bc of it.

It's possible that your son's vocabulary has improved, just not in his speech. As a kid, I read a lot and always aced vocabulary tests and used plenty of bigger words while writing. But I wasn't much more articulate than my peers who didn't read, probably because I was used to the words in print but not in speech.

I don't know how old he is, but since he just became an avid reader, I think just reading solely for pleasure is fine. I didn't start reading more difficult books, such as classics and adult non-fiction, until I was in my mid-teens. I was glad I waited until I was older to read the harder books because I could understand and appreciate them more.

gkelly
08-11-2011, 12:53 PM
In general, reading requires a higher level of language skill than watching TV (speaking and listening). And as such, it goes hand in hand with writing. I don't have any research to cite, but it would seem only logical that reading builds more connections in the brain.

Although of course what you read and what you watch on TV makes a difference. It is less challenging mentally and in terms of language skills to read Harlequin romances than follow a fact-packed historical documentary or debate on political issues on TV.

Without having done or read any research on the subject (so I could be all wrong), I would think that a complex dramatic movie or TV show that requires the viewer to pay attention to and synthesize both visual and aural cues as to what is going on would be more mentally challenging and build more brain connections than either reading a book or watching a documentary that simply present facts without demanding interpretation.

I.e., I don't think fiction in a visual, dramatized form is necessarily less challenging than in written form, and I don't think fact-based television is necessarily more challenging than fiction, as your examples suggest.

Admittedly, most network television (fiction or "reality" TV) is designed primarily to keep the viewer in front of the screen to receive advertising messages without much critical engagement. And many TV viewers (including those who like challenge elsewhere, including occasionally on TV) use television as an opportunity for mental relaxation and prefer not to actively engage while watching.

But I don't think the difference is inherent in the choice of medium.

heckles
08-11-2011, 01:17 PM
So I've just been struck this summer by the passivity of reading, and wondering if it really is all that better than watching television or playing RPG video games.

Admire your candor. It's irritating when people get rid of their TVs and remind everyone of it all the time of it in a smug way. The Onion (http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-constantly-mentioning-he-doesnt-own-a-tel,429/) did a parody of that years ago. I think the issue of one of quality of TV shows versus quality of the books and magazines the child is reading. I'd rather see a kid watch PBS on TV than read Hustler. Of course, like you mentioned, if you have a kid who reads the classics, that's probably even better.

Prancer
08-11-2011, 02:32 PM
:confused:

What stats? If you have statistics that show that a significant number of fourteen-year-olds (or younger children) in the United States worked in factories in the late 1940's, please share.

I have stats about employment rates for 14-17 year olds in 1946; I specifically said teenagers, not younger. I didn't post them because I didn't see the point in pursuing the topic in this particular thread. I still don't. There are times when a side discussion is interesting in and of itself, but I don't see this as one of those times as we both agree that life has changed a lot since 1946, this particular line of discussion shows every sign of being extremely tedious and involving a whole lot of "That's not what I said," and none of it pertains to the subject at hand, which interests both me and, I would suspect, most of the other people in this thread a whole lot more than post-WWII work statistics.

If you are interested, send me a PM and we can talk stats. I highly doubt anyone else is interested.


And many TV viewers (including those who like challenge elsewhere, including occasionally on TV) use television as an opportunity for mental relaxation and prefer not to actively engage while watching.

But that's what I do with reading, too. I can and do read to learn, but that's work; most of what I read is pleasure reading, and I do it strictly for relaxation and escape. That's why it's called pleasure reading and not, say, improving my mind reading.

Most of the studies I have read about reading are like this one, which is actually a survey: http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0806/reading.html

And they all kind of make me :confused:. For example, this survey says that young people are reading less--only then they say things like this:

Even when reading does occur, it not only competes with the television but also other media, such as video games, instant messaging and e-mailing.

Wouldn't instant messaging and emailing involve reading? What they mean is that young people are reading fewer books. But is that how "reading" is defined? That's debatable (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/31/AR2010103103673.html).

That survey was released in 2007. And in the very same year, this: http://www.seattlepi.com/ae/books/article/Teens-buying-books-at-fastest-rate-in-decades-1230449.php

:confused:

And to get back to the pleasure reading issue, you can see from the above that pleasure reading is usually the focus of such things--teenagers and adults, we are told, should be reading for pleasure. It's good for them, like eating vegatables that happen to be tasty, too.

But there are others who say that pleasure reading is a waste of time, as is reading fiction, however literary the merit of said fiction: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/31/AR2010103103673.html

When I first started teaching, it all seemed so clear--good readers devoured books and were also good writers. Students who didn't read were poor writers and usually poor thinkers. That's what I always believed.

And to some degree, I still think so, only the belief is a lot shakier than it used to be. I have students who walk in telling me how much they hate reading and writing who crank out effortlessly wonderful papers. I have students who read all the time who have to work very hard and sometimes get a tutor in order to scrape by with a C-. I've got this brilliant kid in a lit class right now who graduated from high school at 15 and is majoring in aerospace engineering with dual minors in German and French. She's read EVERYTHING; I have yet to bring up a book she doesn't comment on. She reads German poetry during class breaks. But her writing is of the passing-but-that's-it type and her reading comprehension, while not terrible, is pretty superficial. I have students who can't write or read very well, but can tear apart an argument like they were born to do it.

My own son reads and writes very well by all measures, but doesn't read much at all, for pleasure or otherwise; he goes through phases where he reads, but given his druthers, he just wants to play video games. My daughter, inexplicably to me, was a struggling reader for many years, always being pulled out class for tutoring, but has at the same time always been considered an A+ writer. WTH? It wasn't until she was in seventh or eighth grade that she started enjoying reading and she now reads quite a bit for fun, but her reading scores haven't improved a bit. Both kids at all stages have scored way above average on vocabulary, no matter how much they read or didn't.

So while I think that reading ability is generally correlated to a lot of things like academic performance and job success, I'm not sure that it's reading by itself that makes the difference, or that cajoling kids to read is the key to achieving academic and work success.

Jenny
08-11-2011, 02:33 PM
It's possible that your son's vocabulary has improved, just not in his speech. As a kid, I read a lot and always aced vocabulary tests and used plenty of bigger words while writing. But I wasn't much more articulate than my peers who didn't read, probably because I was used to the words in print but not in speech.

Vocabulary is a funny thing - I do believe one needs a broad enough vocabulary to understand others, what we read, etc, and it can certainly enhance our enjoyment or reading and writing when vocabulary is used well. At the same time, a broad vocabulary is not necessarily a tool for better communication. Using "big" words can actually be off-putting to others who don't know what they mean and don't want to ask either, and thus the speaker/writer is ineffective in their communication.

I do think there's value in a good vocabulary, but I think there's greater value in the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

pat c
08-11-2011, 03:18 PM
I do think there's value in a good vocabulary, but I think there's greater value in the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

I worked as a municipal administrator, and when writing bylaws it was suggested you write them at the grade 8 to 10 level. So clear and effective communication that can be understood by most people is of more value in some cases. I guess it depends on the subject matter if simpler words are better or if a more specialized vocabulary is required. ie science, medicine, etc