On Fri, 8 Dec 1995, Roger Graves wrote:
I > think they actually had a raffle of somekind--kids got tickets by
having > their parents/family read with them, one ticket for each night. .
Anyway, my advice would be for initiatives that > grounded reading in
social contexts that were rewarding, in reading that > gave the student
fun/interest/excitement, and in writing that helped them > explain their
world (from poetry to handbooks about how the school gets > run).
Given the state of education funding and the growth of corporate/school
"partnerships," we should be careful with the idea of "rewarding" readers.
I think that there is a fundamental difference between the two types of
rewards Roger refers to.
The first, which I think has been done by some schools in conjunction with
Pizza Hut, rewards students with a "pay-off" (and simultaneously acts as a
mechanism to get the whole family in to dine with the rewardee at full
cost). Here reading is a productive means to a material end, basically a
form of cheap labour for the company. The subtext of this lesson is to
cast reading in a utilitarian light, to enhance brand-name awareness and
attract life-long customers, and to to get some cheap publicity and
goodwill for the participating company.
The second, which is congruent with the educational practice that I think
we are all striving for, hinges on seeing reading as a rewarding activity
per se, in all of its intellectual, emotional, social, cultural, etc. senses.
As a parent of a two-year-old, my suggestion is to introduce books as
early as at all possible. Pre-literacy - the active knowledge that words
and books have meanings and provide pleasures and "rewards" - is an
important first stage towards enhancing literacy in elementary schools. Of
course, the inter-generational passing down of literacy skills and the
social and embodied "habitus" of reading is still anchored in social
privilege, and I recognize that my comments do not invalidate the
practical suggestions of Roger and others, nor do they address the urgency
of teaching kids in the here and now.
Michael Hoechsmann, OISE