topic: reading in class/for class

21 October 2012

I have horrible news to share with you all. The best book in the entire world, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (on my favourites list) is recommended reading in my class and has been for the past two weeks.

Of course I, being stubborn and too in love with the book to ruin it through a rubbish study guide, refused to read it for class. It's a parallel reading, which means it's out of class, and thank goodness for that.

Teachers + Students Reading Aloud

No. Just...I can't stand it. When teachers read aloud, they can read pretty fluently, so that's a positive. However, I don't like it when anyone reads aloud at all. I have my own voice in my head that reads at a musical, pleasant pace. Yet when someone reads aloud, the story dries up. I can't have the lovely film playing in my head or the character's voices speaking to me: because the teacher/student's voice is all I can hear. It's horrible. And when students read: it'll be in a monotone voice with hideous mispronunciation and frequent pauses and so on.
I've resolved to myself that if I read aloud in class, I will put on whatever accent I must, raise or lower my voice to fit the character and speak as if I were actually speaking aloud in the story rather than sitting in an English class being told to read by the teacher.

So for this part, I'm glad that my teacher didn't read The Alchemist out loud. She read the first sentence and the story of Narcissus and I felt destroyed inside. Now, whenever I try to read it in my voice, it's her voice I hear. I feel terrible about this, and my love for the book is somehow in jeopardy because of it. I wanted, the entire time, to plug up my ears. However, that's impossible because I sit right in front of her in class and I didn't want to look to obvious and offending.

Required Reading: A HUGE NO

Required reading destroys the character, charm and beauty of a book. I strongly believe this is the reason why loads of teenagers my age, younger and older, "hate reading". They don't hate it, they're love for it just hasn't been nurtured and their experience of required reading has forever scarred them.

For instance, if all one can worry about it finishing x amount of chapters by Friday for Friday's quiz, or completing that (rubbish!) study guide for the test next week, or answering the guided reading questions for homework due on Wednesday AHHHHHHHH! A student will forever relate that book with the tedious amounts of useless homework involved with it.

When I read The Epic of Gilgamesh for class, I read it on my own and loved it. Yet when I completed the study guide, the love dwindled. I couldn't think about anything but how question #8 really trumped me and where is it in the book? What page, what line?

What Do I DO?!

However, for The Alchemist, I cannot afford to fail it because I'm too close to an A and it's nearing the end of the semester.

I feel terrible right now. Like once I start working on the study guide, I'll be on my way to a funeral. I'm torn. The test is next week. What do I do?!

3 thoughts:

  1. I like required reading and others might too if they liked good books. I would rather read Pride and Prejudice for class than Wuthering Heights. Study guides can be annoying but I would never eefuse to do one! They count a lot towards class and I don't want to fail due to my stubbornness.

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  2. I liked required reading too (agreeing with the previous commenter) - probably because they gave me a chance to experience conversation about books since most of my friends weren't keen on it. I liked taking tests as well, so I could show off how well I knew the book :D It if was a book I didn't care for sometimes the teacher could make it better by talking about what to appreciate about it. I completely agree with you on having students read the book aloud- when they aren't into the book, it's such a bore to listen. If only you could tune them out!

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  3. I don't like required reading, but I like good books. I never understood that idea-- that if you dislike the classics you're taste in books is poor. A lot of poppycock, I say. I'll take good ol' Harry Potter over Pride and Prejudice (and especially Wuthering Heights) any day. And usually, it's not the piece of literature that sucks. I've read plenty of classics that I appreciated. Usually it's the method in which they're taught that is particularly dreadful. I'll complete a study guide as thoroughly as the next straight-A student. Doesn't mean that it's actually inspiring me to look at the text more deeply.

    I kind of feel like Charlene's experience is pretty unique. My friends loved books as much as I did, so we always gabbed about books during lunch. But in classroom settings, book discussions were a failure. The teacher usually ended up answering her own questions because none of us were at all interested in the thoughts she was trying to pull from us. The teacher wasn't trying to get us to think. The teacher was trying to get us to say the right answer.

    I forgot about how badly reading aloud in class was. I think it was such a bad experience that my mind blocked it out entirely.

    - Jackie

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