University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
“By Friday you need to have the first 350 pages read in the novel and a written summary.” Do you remember being told that all the time in school? Teachers expecting us to read large amounts in a short period of time, they don’t think it is too much because they love reading. Well John Holt wrote a really good article about his thoughts called “Making Children Hate Reading.” Making Children Hate Reading is a good article because he uses real life situations and compares his thoughts to others but using several different examples, such as Mark Twain’s work.
John Holt was a fifth grade English teacher. He once felt that he needed to push reading on his students so they would grow up into a world of great vocabulary and knowledge. Vocabulary tests and quizzes on the stories. He also encouraged them to look up every word in the dictionary that they were not sure of the meaning. Once confronted by his sister, who had a rough situation with her sons seventh grade teacher, he began to see what he was doing. John saw that he was pushing these kids further from the desire to read than he thought. People cannot be forced to do something they do not want to do over and over again because they will grow to hate it. They might still do it anyways but just not put any effort into it. “My sister answered that until this class her boy had always loved reading, and had read a lot on his own; now he had stopped. (He was not really to start again for many years.)” (Holt)
Holt also describes how people become almost “scared” of reading. He talks as though someone who is humiliated about something or does something wrong and gets punished for it in some manner will most likely never do it again. That goes for reading as well. Being pushed over and over to read excessive amounts or write long essays they will either A) love it or B) hate it. Once a young child hates something they will fear it for a very long time. Holt uses info from one of Mark Twain’s quotes; “Mark Twain once said that a cat that sat on a hot stove lid would never sit on one again, but it would never sit on a cold one either. As true of children as of cats. If they, so to speak, sit on a hot book a few times, if books cause them humiliation and pain, they are likely to decide that the safest thing to do is to leave all books alone.”
I believe each teacher needs to come up with their own ways to make their class run for every student. Not every student will enjoy everything they do but at some point they should all be able to say “I really had fun today.” Or “What I just learned was very interesting.” Not every teacher is going to understand each student’s level of intelligence, but it helps to try. Each individual student comes from a different home, some where parents were strict making them read in their free time or study flash cards and others probably just didn’t care. Now if each teacher had their own unique way of teaching a subject then the student would remain on their toes and ready to see what is next. Imagine being in a class room and every day the teacher just lectured; hearing the same message every day, in the same tone, about the same topic. Even that sentence was boring. Its gets old and people begin to tune out, it may seem they are paying attention but in their head they are really thinking about how the Bulls finally won last night, or what they wanted to eat when they got home.