Do You Read?

But do you really read?

Teaching writing at various community colleges in Los Angeles for the past ten years has taught me that there are too few students who really understand how to read for college. Sadly, most students come into freshman composition, a university level reading and writing course, extremely unprepared. Oh, they can read the words. They can stare at the page for long enough, but they walk away from the reading with very little.  They will scan the reading and vaguely answer some reading analysis questions, but most do not really consider the reading in a manner that involves critical thinking where they actually interact with the content.

The rude awakening comes when students realize that in order analyze a reading, they must read it more than once, and, worse, they must take notes and ask questions. When the analysis paper is assigned, some students will demonstrate their lack of willingness to dig in and read as their essays will contain erroneous information from the reading such as incorrect names or circumstances. In other cases, students won’t quite understand what the paper should be about as they have not fully digested the reading in the first place.  On the other hand, students whose homework reflects a concentrated effort at deciphering through the reading consistently demonstrate effective essays.

By the end of the semester, the students who have performed poorly will excuse themselves by saying they simply don’t have the time needed for the class.  They have work and family and can’t be expected read more than once. Or worse, they will blame the teacher. Yet, this same population of students attend college feeling they are deserving of the degree that is promised after a certain number of units are earned. And they expect that they will also be awarded the new, sparking career that goes along with the degree. After all, this is America and everyone is entitled to an education.



Filed under College Composition, Reading

4 responses to “Do You Read?

  1. Israel El'Shaddai

    I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. I love to read and when it comes to reading I read boks that educate me and some that entertain me. Books on philosophy and metaphysycal subjects are what interest me the most, why? because I know I am gaining some benifit from the information that they provide. When it comes to English courses I am trying to learn as much as I can but I know that college does not offer any classes on the subject matter that I personally find more interesting like higher philosophy and practical spirituality (Gnosis). maybe once I get my degree I can offer them myself since I will have a P.H.d backing me. reading is fun and it is sad that some people do not like the eye excercise. some do but would rather read info-tainment. I know that whatever I learn in life will be of some kind of use for me later on. In life we all leran from each other there is no escaping that.

    • Hi Israel,
      Thanks so much for your reply! It helps me to hear what students have to say, so that I can adjust my courses accordingly. I would love to hear titles that you would like to see implemented in college courses. I don’t know that I could adopt them, but I sure would like to take the time to investigate your suggestions.
      In my classes this semester, I still see the variations among student reading, especially in my 101 sections. The issue at hand is that no matter what reading is required, I guarantee that not all students will enjoy everything they have to read. But to be successful, students have to find a way to cope with doing a good job reading and to find a way toward creating a conversation with the reading in order to do well in their courses.
      Thanks again for your insight!

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