Monday, May 20, 2013

"It's Okay to Not Like Reading"

Came across a post the other week called When Your Homeschooled Child Doesn't Like to Read. This was a good and challenging blog post for me to read. I often think about the possibility of my youngest daughter or future children falling into this category. How would I react given that my husband, myself, and my oldest daughter adore reading? How much pride do I put into reading = intelligence, reading = worth, reading = success that I am unwilling to admit? Would I harbor resentment? Would I be overbearing? The author says this about her friend Stacey's advice:
"Stacey’s words helped me realize that I harbor a prejudice against non-readers. And it’s silly. I can let her not like reading without interpreting it as a failure on my part or thinking she’s less intelligent. 
My daughter has other talents and passions that are equally as important as reading. Instead of harping on her distaste for reading, I need to invest in her love of art, music, and foreign language. (And I do!) I need to build her up as the creative, brilliant young woman that she is instead of worrying about reading as if it is the single factor of academic success."
Now if you go to the blog post (which I recommend you do) you will see that she does NOT let her daughter just not read just because she doesn't enjoy it (like my triple negative, there?). I think this is necessary even if your child is a slow reader or more auditory-inclined. Growing up, math and science were difficult for me, but that did not (and frankly should not) have given me a free pass on it. Work at your child's pace and modify, but don't give up! In the blog post, she describes her daughter as more of an auditory learner, so she is given audio books or is read to some for her classes. Her curriculum gets tailored to her which is a huge benefit of homeschooling, alleviating frustration that would most likely come in public or private school when she could not be accommodated well due to class size. However, it's not always a death sentence for those taught en masse. Many of the books I taught 9th, 10th, and 11th graders were available on CD at the local library and homework could be done by listening to the story and writing down thoughts and answers at home. Nowadays you can use an iPad, Kindle Fire, or The physical book could be used for looking at key passages during class time. How I wish parents would encourage alternatives like audio books for their children rather than give up completely. Giving up on your child's experience with taking in information is not the way to go! 

Back to the original discussion of fueling passions and finding success beyond reading, it seems that I am never more awed and humbled than when I hear a college friend's original piano music. He's not much of a reader, but the creativity that comes out of his fingertips blows me away every time. He is on another plane when he gets going and articulates emotions that the most renown novelist couldn't touch. What if someone had said to him constantly, "Quit wasting your time playing that piano and read some Hemingway!" When I think back to my middle and high school days trying to play the flute, I see now that I didn't feel music like my college friend; that's not what I was passionate about. Hence why I have the ability to be an English teacher and he has the ability to compose movie soundtracks in his head and we can both appreciate each other's talents. God makes us wonderfully unique and as parents and friends we have to make room in our hearts and minds for that truth even when it frustrates us to do so.  

The book I got for Mother's Day had some discussion from the author's father who said he biggest regret was going to college when he was so mechanically inclined. He wanted to go to trade school so badly, but he also felt he needed to please his mother by using his G.I. Bill and pursuing his education. It was a good reminder that this confusion of what constitutes "intelligence" and "success" has been going on long before I was born.  

Now, Justin and I are still very much in favor of our girls going to college (a discussion for another day) and reading is still VERY important in our house, but these thoughts about intelligence are certainly something to chew on and to give us pause in dealing with things more compassionately. The author of the blog post gives a very level-headed discussion on the topic that involves compromise on both parts (hers and her daughter) and a willingness to examine her own prejudices in regards to "non-readers".  
Have any of you seen these scenarios played out in your life or in the lives of others? How do you handle "non-reading" situations in your classroom or home?