Reading Rationale

In a stack of papers called Reading.

  • Sep
  • 18
  • 2006

In the face of only 10 of my 60 English 3 students having read chapters 3 and 4 of The Scarlet Letter, I explained a bit of logic to the kids. Maybe it will help you out.


You know what you get when only 5 people in class have read and are prepared? You get a Super-Size portion of boring. It’s a very slim possibility to do anything interesting when so few are prepared.

So maybe the rumors floating around campus are wrong. The rumors are that this book is the most boring piece of literature ever published. Your friends are saying that you shouldn’t read this book without a pillow close by, how several people have “literally” fallen asleep while reading. What if it’s not entirely the book’s fault?

What if class just gets boring because so few people read the book? What if the declining number of readers is what makes this book seem dull in class?

Think about how liberating that is. If that’s the case, then we can cure that boredom your colleagues have experienced simply by reading. You walk into class ready to take on the day and engage in whatever discussion or activity is planned. You can even partake in a discussion about how boring the story is.

But you have to read first.

If you haven’t read the book, then your opinion really doesn’t matter. Without the experience of the entire book behind you, your thoughts on how uninteresting the novel is don’t mean much at all. If I don’t watch any or only watch the first 30 minutes of a movie, am I really qualified to give you a review of the film? In order for your opinion to carry any weight, you have to read the book.

Try an experiment: give yourself the possibility of doing something worthwhile tomorrow by reading.

We’re going to spend a few weeks with this story. You can make up your own mind or let others tell you whether or not this book is good. You can make our time intriguing and put yourself in a position to learn a few things or you can take it easy the next few weeks and make the class an incredibly boring conversation between me and the 3 others who are willing to speak up.

What are you going to do?


1. TheBizofKnowledge says:

[9/20/2006 - 5:58 pm]

Only 10 out of 60 students bothered reading the assignment? It’s still September, which unfortunately doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year. In my experience, students are usually all charged up and ready to go in September, and then their participation and preparation steadily declines as the year goes on.

Anyway, you’re right about classes and discussions being boring because of the students rather than the assignments. It’s a tough situation all around. As a teacher, there’s not much you can do when no one prepares. Time for pop quizzes, I guess!

2. Debzanne says:

[9/23/2006 - 12:49 am]

I hated the Scarlet Letter the first time. I remember complaining to my mom and dad over dinner one night. And I was a reader even then, but I couldn’t get into it. The only thing that got me through the book was reading with my mom. She went out and bought another copy and we took turns reading it aloud and talking about it. It made a lot more sense with her oral expression behind it, and she was around to explain things that were more “adult” in nature for me to grasp. The book picked about about 1/2-way in with the love triangle and everything, too, but the beginning is tough to get into.

I admit, though, I pumped my friends for details, pretended like I read in class, and then eventually read the whole book out loud with my mom over 2-3 nights right before the test.