How important is reading anyway?
First of all, apologies for the little hiatus from this blog. I went on a little autumn holiday for 2 weeks and since I got back a mix of family things and PhD work has kept me from giving it the time I should. But I hope I’m back now, with updates on Tuesday, Saturday or, if I’m particularly productive, both.
My first mini study for my PhD has been in to students’ perceptions of the importance of reading. I work with students 16+ who are all taking English for the second (or third, or fourth) time since school. Many of them have myriad issues with reading and for some, they feel it’s a skill beyond their grasp.
Which led me to think about how important students feel reading is versus how important it actually is in the “real” world. There is no doubt that being able to read opens many doors, and is a skill needed to access many areas of life, including health care and employment.
But I would hate my students to feel that, because their reading skills are lower than average, they’ll never manage to get a job or achieve success in life. When I ran a focus group as part of my research, after we had finished with the main questions, we talked about jobs that didn’t need reading on a daily basis. If you have the level of skill needed to apply for the job and complete the recruitment process, if you can make sense of your bank statements and bills, there is no reason you can’t do that job, have a happy work life and have a happy home and family life.
I put a lot of emphasis on understanding the difficulty of reading and helping students progress, but I think it’s also important to recognise that, once students have mastered basic literacy skills, maybe for them, that’s enough.