Parrots or Individuals?

As a middle school history and technology teacher, I found a huge disconnect between what my student were expected to do as readers and what they could do.

I don’t mean that they were lazy. If anything my 5th graders were going above and beyond what I was asking them to do, so what happened?

They were been asked to read for meaning in a whole new way. They were being asked to read as homework for each of their 5 core classes. With the jump to middle school, the expectations of their teachers jumped as well, but their content area reading strategies didn’t.

A standardized view of reading with reading quizzes or even expectations to answer the questions at the end of the chapter doesn’t guide readers to analyze and critique the reading they are doing, but rather just repeat what the author has said.

Although this can be a useful practice, many teachers wonder why the research papers they receive from students don’t make a point or argue anything.

If we teach kids to repeat, then they become parrots, not confident, independent readers.

If students aren’t become independent readers, then in high school we have this situation:

There are three high schools in the part of Orange County that Rick represents. In those three schools, 30 remedial reading teachers are teaching about 3,000 students!

I can’t help but wonder if those 30 teachers have time to get to all 3,000 students and if they don’t then we are sending parrots into society. What does that mean for our future?