As an avid reader who is the son of avid readers I am disturbed by the decline in reading among young people. Well, let’s be honest, young men. It’s a fact that in centuries past the world of literature, used to be viewed as part of a mainly male profession.
The irony in today’s Dominican society, is that what was once seen as a male thing â€” namely reading â€” is viewed by todayâ€™s generation as the opposite. Boys today donâ€™t read, just like they donâ€™t cry.
In secondary schools all over the island, reading is viewed as â€œuncool.â€ But whatâ€™s worse, for some boys it is almost a condemnation against their masculinity. Books, of any kind, are foreign objects. They contain information, maybe some pictures, but they dare not been seen to contain that most catholic of qualities: pleasure.
Some all-boys schools have been forced to make the study of English language and literature compulsory; sensing that if given the choice, students would rather study other things like additional computers and mathematics. The freedom of critical thought, the challenging of world perspectives and the beauty of the written word contained in books are not enough to counter the taboo associations books now have. Books are for girls.
This attitude coalesces with a more general problem of male under-achievement, is an observable fact which has rotted our secondary school institutions from the inside out. Boys, in addition to not reading, apparently do not and are not meant to study. The result speaks for itself: girls today by far out-match boys in terms of academic and verbal excellence. Boys are relegated to an illiterate and unambitious ghetto, and are encouraged to stay there.
I believe there is an easy, two fold solution – first, introduce the love of reading very young, my 7 year old son does not know that boys don’t like to read. As a result, he is reading on a 4th grade level though he is in the second grade and reads hundreds of pages a day. The second fairly easy solution is to bring back and reintroduce the idea of comic books. Kids here used to love to read and collect them and it allows them to enhance their vocabulary in something that is “cool”. If a comic book is created specifically for the different age groups with the idea of teaching them based on their grade level, you will successfully combine entertainment with learning. It is true that kids now like to be entertained, it is therefore our obligation to meet them where they are and make learning entertaining.
As always, just a thought.
Good idea Suki. Another thought is how do you still keep them very much interested in multi-media and still get to enjoy books at the same time. Both are very essential for developing and under-developed countries in particular. How can we get books cheaper and more available in the islands is a significant question, too. In these countries a mobile libabry is often a favorite tool for reaching out to rural communities which may not have resources for a library. I know Dominica has one; but I am not sure how effective it has been.
Of course parental participation and priority setting is relevant. It’s so much easier for parents to be pressured that they must agree to their children’s every recurring request for a new name brand shoe or clothing!
There are other more creative means of enhancing reading in general. Unfortunately it may also call for additional educational resources to be made available. Ideas such as using texture to read and writing research oriented essays are among some methods used. It takes a certain commitment and training for teachers as well.
Also, when new schools are being constructed is there a deliberate means of incorporating a resource center (library and computer facility) in those buildings, alongside the teacher training capacity building? This is one for the policy makers.
There are also things like mentorship. In a strong religious community as in Dominica, I think the roles of “godfathers” and “godmothers” are often too materialistic-oriented, and could be deliberately used as a form of mentorship to the kids in many respects. And lets not forget adult education too, to enable adults to be better facilitators to the kids.
All in all it will continue to be a challenge and we all have a role to play; but an interesting topic to focus on!
Great idea Suki…that might just work.
sad but true. the gangsta creed is the norm now. i don’t know how things will change though. this is a whole new generation man. i mean i grew up reading like a maniac. i became a poet because of reading. most of my friends were readers too. u gotta love reading. people do what they love.
Sadly, it is not just Dominica that is having this issue. All over the Western World girls/women are out performing boy/men academically. It is showing in the professional fields as well as doctors, lawyers, accountants are all high paying jobs that are going to more women then men because more women then men graduate from the schools that train these professions. Kind of an interesting study that the resent gains in equality for women have been due to slacking by men. I wonder what the social/cultural implication of this will be?
yea Joel all over the world women are stepping up. Guess this is reality man. Basically everything flips around. The world moves in cycles I reckon. Maybe the world will change.
The question should not be Why Boys Donâ€™t Read but what do they read since we live in a world where reading is no longer a privilege but a right as almost all items produce today require some reading for there use. Media use is on a rise from internet, DVD, cell phone etc and they all involve reading as a matter of fact we have not gone pass print media as more paper is use today just look around you. Boy do read a lot but it is the sexist white superior stuff which is problematic. Moreover, they lack role reading models in that I mean people that they see reading books at their homes, on buses on, side of the road, etc. just reading for the fun of it and not as something one has to do. I was lucky growing up in Goodwill in a time we were socialized on relationships with books. To some extent it was our escape mechanism and was done on a exchange bases where there were two competing groups the reader =book vs the pagers = mags and the house with the most books and mags was it even if you rarely read them every kid in the area will be at your place.