It’s Just 700 Pages in One Week

As the semester closes, acting skills are sharpened, questions about the easiest teachers are rampant, and SparkNotes becomes the most popular website of the month. In order to keep their grade, students start to fake their way through their reading.

Getting students to read is crucial. It expands our views and knowledge of the world while building literacy and vocabulary. But Hale’s outside reading assignment for language arts builds bad relationships with reading and fails to show it cares about individual students reading.

The approach to reading at Hale is very one dimensional. All students have to read a flat amount of pages to get credit. If a student does not like to read or can’t find anything that interests them, reading will continue to be negative and they will be encouraged to cheat their way through the system. If reading became more enjoyable, ie: it was on their time and didn’t feel like an assignment, then students could build positive relations with reading and grow to enjoy it.

Hale’s reading assignment creates negative experiences for many students because it is impersonal and broad. All students do not read the same, have not had the same reading experiences, and lead different lives. In order to cater to all students Hale has to find a way to diversify its reading program; to encourage reading with advice and positive reinforcement, not threatening a bad grade.

The culture around reading at Hale sucks. The students who have the time and enjoy doing it will read extra pages, while students who don’t enjoy it will struggle towards the end of the semester to scrape together their required pages.

In a survey of 120 Hale students, 67 percent said they hadn’t done any of the required reading just one week before language arts teachers required the reading to be done.

As you grow in Hale, traditions get passed down by upperclassmen on how to cheat the system and fake your book talks.

A majority of surveyed students thought of reading as a burden on them without a benefit. When students feel this way, they cheat. Since many students are in a time crunch at the end of the semester to rack up their required books, faking and cheating quotas rise.

Seventy-four percent of Hale students surveyed say they have faked a book talk to get credit before. If the system is so broken that almost three-quarters of students fake the assignment, there has to be an obvious flaw in blindly forcing high school students to read.

High school is supposed to be a growth period to go from reading 10 page packets to 50 page textbook chapters every night in college. Reading should be positive for students, a time to grow and prepare for the staggering work they have to do in college. Hale’s reading culture pushes students away from reading. Their negative experience transcends to their lack of preparedness entering college.

“I just don’t think it is a good system and it just encourages the students to lie to get credit for an assignment,” one student responded in the survey.

Another student’s response highlighted the negative consequences of the assignment.

“Putting a number of pages on this, makes it so much more like an assignment and does not instill a love of reading at all,” an anonymous student said.

The fear that students won’t read without the outside reading assignments perhaps keeps it from being scrapped. However, a majority of students replied in the survey that they would continue to read, or read more if they didn’t have this assignment. A majority also said they would enjoy reading more if it wasn’t a forced assignment.

While disbanding the outside reading option may keep a few students from reading the bare minimum, it could also reverse Hale’s atrocious culture around reading and make students enjoy reading again.

At the very least, the culture around reading at Hale must improve because the negativity students feel towards reading hurts their futures.


Comments are closed.