No Taming This Shrew


It's this or Katie Holmes

...and I swear if I see that shot of Tom Cruise grabbing her head like he's going to break her neck I'm going to snap my own. What is WITH people and this couple? ARGH!

Meanwhile, in the world of books and learning...we learn today that students no longer enjoy reading because teachers ask them to read too much in school.

I mocked this internally when I read it because it sounded like whining. In a big way. But then I read the article, and lots of these kids at foofoo schools are being corralled into reading assigned books over all school breaks! YECH! What a rotten way to read over the holidays! (I'll just ignore for now the fact that kids at low performing schools are lucky to get a crappy anthology all year...)

[There's also an accusation that students are made to read books that are "classics," which therefore "have no meaning to kids' lives." (Ahem, why are they classics, then?)]

My summers in south Georgia were either spent under water in my cousin's pool (or eating watermelon, drinking lemonade, eating barbeque, going to Dairy Queen, resting for 45 minutes, swimming more, drinking more lemonade....I really miss summer.) or stretched out inside in the airconditioning reading reading reading.

And I read FUN stuff! All the Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys, a couple of times. Moved on to Agatha Christie and read all those (this latter was in response to the librarian in my small town telling my mom that I shouldn't be reading Judy Blume since she was so "mature." Mom promptly walked me into the "adult" section and told me to pick out whatever I wanted. Loved that. In your face, book nazi!). Went back to the young adult section and read all the cheesy books about love and crushes and cute boys and how smart girls can be cute, too. In other words, I was not plowing through "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Midnight's Children," which were the Christmas Break reading for one high school class. I loved Garcia Marquez when I read him after college (for pleasure), but damn I never could have pulled that magically odd book off in high school!?!

Even in high school, when those books would (should?) have been "my speed" I was reading the Robot Chronicles, Dune, romance novels, and lots and lots of other novels for fun. Wilkie Collins, Dick Francis, etc. In school I had my world rocked by Farenheit 451, Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies, and All the King's Men -- books that I never would have picked up myself. I loved those books, but I never read them on my own time.

Maybe that's why I still love to read, and why I can still share that with my students to a certain extent. All this being said, the last time I tried to teach a book (not a play to college kids), I tried to teach my high school SAT kids A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, because I thought it would be fun. They were so thrown at needing to read ANOTHER book that they hated it. And they couldn't "figure it out." The article I'm referring to finishes off with a similar sentiment, one that made me so sad:

That happened to Abbey Becker, a graduate of Richard Montgomery High School who attends Emerson College. During the summer before 11th grade English class, she read Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" and enjoyed it. The joy was lost in class, however, "ripping apart sentences and trying to figure out the metaphors."

"The word 'funny' might have meant one thing to me," she said, "but it supposedly had a definite counter-directional slant to it, in the author's mind. How did my teacher know this?"