As the building I work in is entering "testing mode" this week, I begin to consider all the reasons why our students may not be successful. I've been thinking a lot about higher education these past few weeks because I've had the opportunity to experience higher education, and have started looking at the disconnects that may prohibit students at any level from learning.
This is also the time of year when it is crunch time for classroom observations. Because "stuff happens", I still have 2 more teachers to observe next week and a bunch of observations to finish before I begin to review formative and summative evaluations. Since reviewing observations and writing evaluations will encompass the majority of my weekend, my thought process has shifted to something a little more pragmatic. From what I've observed recently, a student's ability to read and comprehend makes all the difference in the world when it comes to being academically successful.
That being said, there are still too many kids out there who do not possess a love, or even an interest in reading. My mom once told me that no one can take away your educaton. That was one of the most profound things she ever said to me. My education combined with my ambition has everything to do with the fact that I have a roof over my head and a fairly comfortable lifestyle. I have to credit my education with my love of reading, because these degrees have involved a LOT of reading.
21st century learners need to be good readers. There was a time when it seemed that reading and writing appeared to be things of the past. Why would you need to read and write when you could communicate by talking on the phone, or learn everything by watching a video. I wonder if they ever saw the Internet coming? How can you navigate the Internet, use Facebook and Twitter without being able to read? Yet, many students don't have a comprehension level high enough to process the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are now required.
To me, the answer to this issue has to do with getting kids to be interested in reading by proving to them its relevance. There is a lot of competition out there right now, and its going to be a harder sell. But it's a sale we are going to have to make if our children stand a chance in this century.