USA Today has an interesting story about how schools might actually destroy students’ love or reading. Patrick Welsh, an English teacher in Virginia, reports that national reading tests haven’t improved since 1999. "The Pew Research Center’s Internet Project reported that for today’s teenagers, "the Internet and cell phones have become a central force that fuels the rhythm of daily life." Eighty-seven percent of America’s kids ages 12 to 17 spend time online. E-mail is no longer fast enough for most teens who are using instant messenger and text messaging to keep up with their friends."
The culprit might actually be bad textbooks. "So few kids curl up with a book and read for pleasure anymore, what do we teachers do? We saddle students with textbooks that would turn off even the most passionate reader."
Our classes and textbooks are written to simply prepare students to taked dumbed-down standard tests, he writes. "It’s time for states and school districts to kick the mega-textbook habit that four or five big corporations control and start spending money on the kind of books that will make kids want to do sustained reading, to get lost in the written word. For English classes, that’s paperback novels (whole novels) and collections of short stories (complete short stories) and poetry."