Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mr. McNamar's Ten Commandments of Reading

I've recently begun reading the second edition of Robert E. Probst's Response & Analysis: Teaching Literature in Secondary Schools, and it has inspired me to evaluate the way I teach reading in the academic environment. Probst writes, "In other words, we must treat initial response as a draft, as something to build upon, modify, or perhaps reject" (59). So here is my initial response to the first 60 pages: Ten Commandments of Reading. I might build upon this list, modify it, or even reject it, but I'm going to offer it for discussion.

I. Thou shalt read actively.

II. Thou shalt make meaning of the text.

III. Thou shalt not confuse summary with interpretation.

IV. Thou shalt not be afraid to ask questions.

V. Thou shalt not believe everything the teacher suggests.

VI. Thou shalt allow the text to challenge your beliefs.

VII. Thou shalt think while you read.

VIII. Thou shalt make connections to your own life or world.

IX. Thou shalt not fear a difficult and complex text.

X. Thou shalt discuss the text.


At 5:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are good yet basic...I hate the thou shalt however....some may find it offensive

At 6:06 PM , Blogger Braemar said...

Difficult to have the Ten Commandments without thou...

At 12:00 PM , Blogger Ms. Forshay said...

Great list! I love the fifth commandment.

At 3:19 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Ms. Forshay,
This summer, while teaching with a terrific summer program, I tired of the students simply agreeing with me. So I started throwing out slightly outrageous statements.
But I wonder how much of their agreement was fostered by my teaching style. Perhaps I come across as too convinced, too opinionated for them to feel confident to disagree?

At 8:36 AM , Blogger Ms. Forshay said...

Schooling has slowly worn away at our students' ability to think independently. Part of it is standardized tests, where there is ONE right answer, and where essays must be written following this ONE formula. Part of it is poor teachers who are afraid to "lose face" in front of students, and refuse to allow students to challenge them (I decided to go into teaching when my 5th grade math teacher seethed at me, "The teacher is ALWAYS RIGHT." I decided to go into teaching to show her how to do it the right way, since she obviously wasn't).

Students are taught that we, the teachers, give them the right answers. First, we need to stop dealing with "right" or "wrong" answers (okay, maybe not in math and science classes, but can we allow critical and creating thinking in language arts?) We need to teach them to think for themselves, instead of memorizing what they need to bubble on the Scantron sheets.

(Sorry, my soapbox ran away with me...)

At 11:05 AM , Blogger In the Middle said...

I love Ms. Forshay's comment(s). It is rare to find another teacher who entered the profession because of a negative experience with a teacher. I switched schools (ironically from public to private) my senior year and went from an English department that was passionate and fostered creative thinking to a classroom where the teacher talked more about her divorce than literature and marked students down for not using her pneumonic device to organize an essay. I spent my freshman year at university recovering and vowed to be the former sort of teacher. Now as a teacher I find myself frustrated by students who don’t know how to think for themselves and a system that does not reward those who do.


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