- Demonstration of strong writing.
- Training in deep thinking.
- Exposure to thought processes that aid critical thinking in all realms.
- Education about other time periods, societies, populations and cultures.
- Intelligent entertainment.
- Study of how all the pieces of a hard work process produces beautiful results.
Too many children, much less adults, can't sit still long enough to solve a detailed problem. They want quick answers and electronic solutions. I would love to see children go through a mandatory month of books, art and outdoors with few modern conveniences so they could have the simple gift of time to absorb the world through senses and slow, easy thought. They'd learn to recognize a beautiful phrase or simple artistic lines. Living for the moment, instant gratification, and immediate electronic feedback are fine in theory, but as with anything performed in excess, these concepts ruin the ability for a child to dissect life and solve his own problems.
Many teachers who recognize the power of stories to create readers are doing all they can to squeeze time for independent reading into mandated, proven-ineffective programs of instruction that perversely substitute activities, drills, textbooks, quizzes, and tests for engagement and experience.
Nothing teaches a child more thoroughly than reading and writing. Reading great works and writing while the words are still fresh on the mind is empowering. Build a strong foundation in the written word, and a child grows up more confident, more accomplished, and more respected.
The child speaks better, writes better and thinks better than those who haven't read a book in a year. If I had to interview someone for employment, one of the questions would be, "What's the last book you read and how did you like it?" The sad thing is how many people wouldn't be able to answer.
Look at history. If you recall, cultures kept many groups illiterate, to keep them uneducated and easier to control. To create a bigger divide between the upper and lower classes.
Once you create a ravenous reader, he remains such, and therefore, continues learning at a faster pace than his peers, for the rest of his life. Free reading and letting kids read anything just for the sake of reading, is only good to teach the habit of picking up a book. But teachers must open doors, steer and lead those students to great works that aid their development, deepen their knowledge, and teach them to reach for more than light entertainment.
Teach a child to read advanced works. We all know people perform only up to the level expected of them. Make them hungry to read, think, analyze and critically deduce. Make them smart! No, scratch that. Make them realize they can make themselves smart . . . now and for the rest of their lives.
The opportunity for every student to sit quietly and become immersed in an actual book may not be high-tech, instantly quantifiable, or lucrative for the College Board. It just happens to be the only way that anyone ever became a reader.
Make teaching literature obsolete? Gracious, what is this, the Twilight Zone?