Read and Read To Live
At the very start Danny Brassell disliked the idea of reading. To him it was neither a desirous academic requirement nor a fun-filled past-time choice. Not until he was on the seventh grade that he met, Mr. Hobbs as his teacher that reading became more than compliance but already a choice. However, it was a difficult at first for Brassell to dispose himself to likely opening pages of books when he really didn’t have the passion to do it. But his competitive disposition and the Mr. Hobbs’ soft-spoken and non-critical tendencies make a difference.
How did Mr. Hobbs make Danny Brassell like reading books? Here are the ways that were cited in First Person by Brassell himself (2006) that spoke about Mr. Hobbs’s reading class routine, and I would like to quote:
“1. Provide a huge variety of high interest books written for different ages, abilities, and interests; 2. Discuss what you, the teacher, are reading. Solicit volunteer feedback about what the students are reading; 3. Allow students to select book and read; 4. You, the teacher, read while the students read; 5. When students complete a book, they bring the book to you. Ask the student some general questions about the book. When you are satisfied that the student has read the book, give the student credit for reading. 6. Develop a point system. For example, to earn A in Mr. Hobbs’s class, students needed to earn 20 points during the semester. A 100 page book was worth 1 point, and students earned an additional point of every 100 pages beyond 100 (e.g., a 300-page book would be worth 3 points); 7. Post the names and point totals of the top five readers in each class.”
Definitely with the procedures defined, Brassell was able to appreciate the value of reading through Mr. Hobbs’s indirect approach— his creation of calm atmosphere in the classroom with great and interesting books discussion and empowering students to choose what book to read. Brassell’s realization of the value of reading is attested by several studies that affirm a positive effect to students. Cunningham and Stanovich (1998) and Nagy, Herman, and Anderson (1985) as cited by the Brassell (2006) pointed out that those who read more would do better on measurement on comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and questions of general knowledge. Furthermore, Anderson,Wilson, and Fielding (1988) as cited by the Brassell (2006) showed that the more students read books, they performed on measures of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.
Brassell thought that Mr. Hobbs did not motivate them with grand speeches like anyone else did. Mr. Hobbs’s gentle and soft-spoken manner gave a way to let them decide what book to read, especially those book which catered to their personal interest. Mr. Hobbs showed that responsibility must reside with their students, in their choice of books and that responsibility would encourage them to be inspired and passionate with reading.
Will Hobbs’s greatness as a teacher echoed all the way to Brassell. Mr. Hobbs had no criticisms, only suggestions. For Brassell, Mr. Hobbs constantly reminded him of his talent and potential in reading and writing.
Reading might be the most difficult task to do. Oftentimes, students hate the idea of it. In fact, reading is most likely the last priority for them to tackle. But the classroom seems to bespeak the contrary, for learning presupposes that one must read and read to understand. Indeed, this is the most misinterpreted aspect of the learning experiences and students are victims to their own bias. Difficulty might pose a different figure out of reading, but the real glory is when students will start uncovering the real beauty of each letter that carves significant images and information in pages.
But how must students be lead to like and eventually love reading? It is indeed a personal effort in the part of students, and the biggest effort in the part of the teacher. As I would like to emphasize, Mr. Hobbs’s way is foremost a significant shifter, a changer to the way some people will think and consider about some things. Brassell was not a victim. At start, he might be the antagonist to say no to the idea of reading. Brassell was stubborn to consider it at the very beginning. Yet, he was eventually enlightened to see what meaning can there be in reading. Mr. Hobbs was right to his insistence, and the glory to it was how his students were able to see the beauty of doing reading.
The teacher’s disposition is a big factor for someone to like reading. The teacher’s way to give patient pleasure in the eyes of students will give meaning of what students will do in reading. Disposition as meant and I quote from Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting (2008):
“’A disposition is a tendency to exhibit frequently, consciously, and voluntarily a pattern of behavior that is directed to a broad goal. It is possible to have the skills and lack a taste for or habit of using them. Similarly, knowledge can be acquired without having the disposition to use it’ (Katz, 1993, p. 1). Dispositions are usually learned through modeling. Children develop dispositions by observing them in other people and by having opportunities to use them.”
Mr. Hobbs modeled this disposition to his students. His students learn many things from him. Not just the simplest way of reading books, but to liking books as a pleasurable and fun means to enhance understanding of the world around us. The classroom may not be the boring place to stay anymore and books are no longer there to make students complain, if not cry. Teachers come all way to make a difference. Reading is different; books are different. Fun is already the name of the game. Reading is the medium to do it. Students are the ones to play it. Mr. Hobbs has done it.
Brassell has found his way to like reading. Students will eventually find themselves to like reading. If all teachers be like Mr. Hobbs, what reading can there be in the hearts of students. Difficulty is no longer the name but reading is already a way of life.
We must read and read to live!
by Cromwell Artiaga, Ed. D.
Brassell, D. (2006). Mr. Hobbs’s extraordinary approach to teaching reading. International Reading Association, 92-95
Definition of Disposition. Retrieved April 7, 2008, from Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting, Web site: http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/pubs/katzsym/noyes.html