Friday, September 10, 2010

Dangerous Reading


Swallowdale
Originally uploaded by The original SimonB
We watched the first part of choir-master Gareth Malone's new TV series last night - the Dangerous School For Boys. A fairly laudible attempt to improve the literacy levels of primary school boys who are lagging behind the girls across the country. He has taken over the boys from two year groups at an Essex primary school and is attmpting to get them more engaged with each other and the contents of books, poems etc with the aim of boosting the overall reading age by six months in the space of 8 weeks.

It looked like an interesting project, and what he has done so far did appear to be helping towards self confidence and expression for most of the lads involved. There was some negativity from the teachers, but I do feel he will be hampered mostly by the parents of the boys if anyone is going to drag the work down.

Now I know that when I was that age there were only three tv channels and all we had in the way of a computer was a ZX81, which when compared to the amount and quality of distractions available today may as well not have even existed. But the few parental interviews we saw appeared to back up the theory expressed by the boys themselves that reading and writing is boring. My view at that age was the polar opposite.

The first time my Mum pushed me into town in the pram she called in at the Library and I got my first membership card at less than a month old, never looking back. I would read and read all the time from as soon as I could get through a book on my own. In fact our primary school had "infant" and "junior" libraries and I was into the junior one a year or more before being old enough.

Yes I still watched tv, yes I played about on the computer, but there was always a book waiting for me. From Thomas the Tank Engine through Arthur Ransome and on to WIllard Price and more I have no idea how many books I devoured and re-read countless times before the age of 11.

Maybe it was parents and teachers who encouraged me, maybe I was just naturally a reader, but that's what I did whenever I had a spare moment. Which is why although I will watch the rest of the series, I'm not sure I'll be able to fully understand why those youngsters don't read.

2 comments:

Ishouldbeworking said...

Like you, I was a complete bookworm. My parents used to grumble at me for having one propped up on the table while I was trying to eat dinner, but they were secretly pleased that I was so keen. I don't understand how, when or why reading got downgraded to 'boring' in these kids - and their parents - eyes. Maybe because a degree of concentration, and hence effort, is involved?

Lee Slator said...

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Encourage Your Kids to Read