Today in class we discussed the different ways in which reading and writing are taught from kindergarten through college. For me, my favorite teacher in high school was an English teacher I had for three years. He allowed incredible freedom in his student’s writing, not restricting everyone to five formulaic paragraphs, and allowing everyone to write about things that interested them. I think interest in one’s own reading and writing is key to fostering proficiency, especially at a younger age.
I have an eight-year-old brother who last year was given a list of ten books to read within a certain timeframe. He really didn’t enjoy most of these books and it took him a long time to get through them. However, in the same year, he plowed through the entire Harry Potter series in a lot less time. I have no doubt that the Harry Potter series has had a lot more impact on my brother’s development in—and passion for—reading than any of the required books have. This isn’t to say that his teacher picked terrible books (a lot of them were award winning books that I enjoyed myself); however, I think it is a teacher’s responsibility to acknowledge the things that spark a student’s interest and to build off of them, not ignore them.