Saturday, October 19, 2013

Are You Reading More?

This is a common question directed to  my daughter on a regular basis and happens to be just a tad of a pet peeve to me going right along with another question of "how is school going?" These two questions never fail to irritate me no matter how much I remind myself these questions are not about us, they are about the person doing the questioning. Opinions are always about the person giving and having them, never about the person they have the opinion about. Many times these questions are asked out of my presence as those who know me, know I am quite verbal and rather than deal with my defending of my family, simply ask when I am not around to defend on matters that are really none of their business in the first place or highly inappropriate, and disrespectful of the person being questioned. These questions do not anger me, but the do irritate me and I consider them to be my pet peeves and this is why:

"How is school going?"  is asked out of a place where they think there is only one model of learning and that we should be imitating that model at home. That model being public school, with refusal to acknowledge there are a multitude ways to learn and that learning does not have to be separated into blocks of time. Nor does it have to fit into certain age categories. This is not a question asked out of genuine curiosity, it is a question based out of a place of judgment that they think best and one way is the only way. They have no desire to understand your educational philosophy, how the child is learning or even what they have been truly doing.

 By this question being asked on a regular basis, it has already instilled into the child being asked, that learning is not suppose to be fun. Their reply will reflect this as they more likely will answer......we don't do anything but play video games all day. Well okay so they may play video games a lot, being home and having any waking moment for learning allows for a lot of game play. Yet this is a go to answer because this is what is observed either by the person questioning, or by the child who does not notice all the other details they do.

This does not take into consideration the documentaries watched, the sewing projects, baking, interests on You tube viewed, playing with neighbor friends, interesting family discussions held or writing a letter to sissy. This does not take into consideration the shopping for food, going to interesting places, playing board games, music listened to or going to the library. It leaves so many variables and activities out that are naturally ignored as learning.

More appropriate questions would be:

Have you watched any good movies lately?
Have you watched any interesting documentaries recently?
Have you been doing any baking? Oh? What have you been baking?
What are you interested in right now?
What do you like to do for fun?
What kind of movies do you enjoy?
What do you like about online games?
Have you made anything crafty or done any projects lately?

While there are a ton more appropriate questions you could  ask the interest led child, the point is that they should be questions that spend a little amount of time actually trying to get to know the child. To engage them in open ended interesting conversation. Also more appropriately would be  to engage them in conversation of new interesting things YOU have been learning. By sharing in such a manner, the person who does the questioning is helping to foster a life long learner......far more important than just wanting to know what they have done academically this week.

Are you reading more?

There are several reasons why this question is inappropriate and outright disrespectful. Especially if this then is followed with a comment that one who does not learn to read would then turn out dumb as an adult.

Believe it or not that is called illiteracy for one, not dumb, there have been some highly successful and intelligent adults who were illiterate. Does being able to read open the doors to accelerated learning at your fingertips? certainly! But illiteracy is not the same thing as being dumb. Nor is it appropriate to be telling a child they will turn out dumb if they do not learn to read based off that child's potentially inaccurate answer.

Reading more compared to what?  Since the person asking the question has no clue what so ever about the child's reading ability, then what is the basis of the question in the first place? By what is the question being measured against?

The other issue is a break down in communication with the question, for instance my daughter takes that to mean "Reading More Books"  which in turn her response then becomes "No, not really."

The questioner then assumes she is not able to read based on that reply because the real issue behind that question is missed. The questioner means something totally different then how the child is taking the question to mean. The adult wants to know if they are reading more words,  reading at grade level based on the model of public school. The child is taking the question to mean are they reading many books, which at this point my daughter is not really interested in books so she replies no.

In truth my daughter's ability to read is quite fine and she reads all the time, just not many books.

Her father however is a terrible reader, phonically challenged and a man of simple words. Yet he is not asked how is reading is coming. He is not asked if he knows his phone number or address ( which he doesn't, we have moved so many times he keeps a card in his wallet,  he  does not want to bother to learn it  at this point) He can read, but large words are a struggle and he hates reading for this reason. Yet he is not by any means what you could call a dumb man, he is quite smart in other areas.

Because he is an adult, nobody cares about his reading or spelling..... nope it never comes up in day to day questions. He is never quizzed on his knowledge or lack there of.

He is not alone, many people I am very blessed to know are terrible spellers, weak readers, with limited vocabulary usage, yet intelligent people. Yet nobody drills them on their knowledge, their reading, spelling or anything academically. As an adult it is not challenged or even thought to question. How disrespectful that would be, yet it is okay to disrespect a child in that manner? A person who the questioner may spend a total of 14 days with out of a whole year?

More appropriate ways to handle this concern would be to:

 Find out what kind of reading material they do enjoy reading to bring that to  them.
To encourage reading by using opportunities around you to read the written word.
To actually know how well they are reading by having them read something to you.
Play word games.
To read the Sunday paper comics together.
To find out all the kinds of materials that are used for reading if not books.
To simply quit questioning and grilling in regards to academics, quizzing is disrespectful period.
To bring interesting magazines to the child that go along with their interests.

In the end, my daughter is doing fine and is exactly in the right place to be for her at this time, no quizzing needed. She spends her days reading from a multitude of mediums such as online gaming with friends ( you have to read what they say you know and she has to spell what she wants to say!) Subtitles in movies, paragraphs off of things laying around in print, letters from her sister, signs seen while out and about. Directions to games, researching online and Google searches.

I mean think about it, we are bombarded with the written language with todays information age. Our homes and lives are filled with words.........she has plenty of reading material and reads it quite well, no questions needed because I get to hear her read and I know exactly how well she has been coming along. I do not worry for a minute about her reading capabilities. At 12 she is exactly where she should be  for  her.