John Holt, an English teacher, would ask similar questions to his dents; he would assign “questions designed to bring out the points that [he] decided they should know (436). Yes, if the students understand the material they read, they should be able to answer the questions; however, to the students this is frustrating. Corresponding with Halt’s students, other children like to know exactly what is being asked of them by their teacher and will try to get hints from their teacher (436). This becomes an annoyance as much as for the children as the teacher. In addition, vocabulary and quizzes are given.
This also hinders the joy of reading. One child was assigned a dull, elaborately written book, and if that was not bad enough, the teacher wanted the students to the definitions and the origins of every large word (Holt 437). Under those conditions, how can a child appreciate and enjoy a book? It is not necessary to look up every word in a dictionary or ask question periodically for a child to grasp and enjoy what they read. Children should learn how to retain what they read and more importantly find a hunger for more. If the hoards of questions and vocabulary drive the child away from reading, they are not doing their purpose.
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Humans on average have thousands upon thousands of words in their vocabulary. People do not gain all of their vocabulary by looking up their definitions; it was acquired through years of practicing our language. Reading as well expands vocabulary (Holt 437). If a child can read a sentence and obtain the general meaning of a sentence, they also can grasp a meaning of a word they did not necessarily know the definition. When teachers allow children to dictate what they read, teachers will find that students will begin to find pleasure in reading and will want to read more.
They will still develop a higher level of vocabulary and comprehend with out being drilled with questions they find irrelevant and loads of vocabulary assignments. Holt discovered this for himself and only asked that his students read lots of books. The students would decide what they read and whether or not they finished the book. They read for enjoyment (439). Children of course will try to “test the waters” and read a relatively easy book but eventually will move on to subjects that interest them. In addition, as the number of books, they read increases so will the difficulty of material.
Give children space, and they will roam and push their limits. Another problem with reading for students is reading out loud. From a very early age, children are asked to read aloud so teachers can be certain of the child’s ability to read and ‘”know’ the words. ” When a child makes a mistake or mispronounces a word, other children may snicker or point out the error to his or her friends. The teacher will add to the humiliation by correcting the student or even worse will politely smile (Holt 438) A child has had enough experience by then to know if it hurts don’t do it again.
This is hat happens to students and reading. They do not want to get wounded again so, “if books cause them humiliation and pain, they are likely to leave all books alone”(holt 439). Reading should not cause pain. If the teacher so desperately feels the need to make sure children know what they are reading, they can ask the child to give a summary of what they have been reading. Teachers should give students assignments that are enjoyable and that show them the teacher’s interest in their choice of reading. If reading is not enjoyable to the student then it is defeating the purpose of reading.