Something I’m finding interesting is thinking about the many forms of reading and writing that I’m doing of late. I’m editing my own writing, blogging, lesson planning for the youth group I help run, and writing content for a company that represents soccer players. I’m reading two books, multiple blogs a day, the textbooks of the kids I tutor, Native American myths, emails, other people’s writing, txts, game information, electronic conversations in many different formats, profile pages (i.e. facebook and myspace), children’s books, subtitles, and Japanese conversations and Japanese children’s books.
As a culture, we’re very information saturated. As a person, I’m over the top with my information saturation. As I’m looking at the 72 words that were necessary to list most of what I read or write on my typical Sunday (i.e. what I did today) I have to wonder. Does all of this make me busy or not busy? All I’ve done today is go to church, run the church daycare, tutor three kids, and eat lunch and dinner. I don’t feel like today has been a busy, but when I look at what reading or writing is involved in that for me I wonder what that makes me? Am I someone who is always abnormally busy and curious so normal feels like an easy day? I’m simply not sure.
The other thing I wonder is this: What on Earth are we doing educationally when the average newspaper is written on an 8th grade level and many kids can’t even read that? I’m not sure what we can do to work on the reading and writing of our students today. Obviously, we could give the teachers the materials to do the work they need to do. Somehow though, I’m doubting that that’s going to happen anytime soon. Most teachers I know (myself included) spend much of their meager paychecks to furnish their students with supplies. Imagine buying school supplies for 180 kids. It’s expensive. Powers be praised we don’t have to buy their clothes and bags, pay cellphone bills, etc. Even with all the money teachers spend, they still can’t make up for the old or nonexistent textbooks.
While I’m all for choice and variety (I would have been bored without that) I think that we’re forgetting to teach the basics. Often, the kids I’m tutoring don’t know how to write paragraphs, essays, or outlines. They don’t know study skills. I’m honestly wondering if public schools should be required to schedule one period a week per semester for students to learn study skills and a couple of blocks a week for writer’s workshops and sustained silent reading (SSR Time). We had those when I was a kid. It seems to have done well by me and the inability of the current students to do the basics worries me. We need to put a real emphasis on education. Most of the time, there isn’t the proper emphasis. Sports come first. Art comes first. Computer games come first. Since when should school not come first? It makes me want to start a charter school where the parents have to sign a contract to support school and put it first. I don’t blame the kids for not wanting to be in school. Our whole culture puts it last. It makes me sad.
When I think of how much I read and write in just one day, it saddens me how poor the reading and writing skills of the average American today. I hope that we can put those skills first. Otherwise, our next generation will have a hard time on the international stage in the near future.