20 Minutes of Reading? A Rant.
The nicest thing I can say about this image is that its creator can apparently do simple math. Congratulations.
What am I supposed to take away from this image? I guess I’m supposed to feel terribly sorry for poor Travis who can’t read well, doesn’t know much, isn’t going to be very successful, and doesn’t feel very good about himself as a learner. So dire! It’s almost like Travis’s parents don’t even care!
The problem with single issue math is that it can’t tell you anything about context.
Imagine that James spends 20 minutes reading, but that his parents have to bribe and force him into it every night because he hates it and his parents pick out terrible, boring books for him to read. Imagine that he feels invisible and unimportant and feels like his parents value books more than they value him. He seethes with resentment every single night, going to bed exhausted over the battle.
Imagine that Travis hardly ever picks up a book, but his family has a 20 minute nightly ritual of snuggling together and talking about their day. They share their happenings, their hopes and dreams, their feelings, their plans for the next day. The conversation usually ends up in a tickle pile or pillow fight and everyone goes to bed delighted and brimming over with love and joy for their family.
What is the reason for the singular focus on reading? It’s an infographic about reading – of course it can’t spend space talking about all the issues under the sun. But it goes ahead and suggests that one child will be more “successful” than the other, which is quite a stretch when focusing on a single issue.
Imagine that James spends 20 minutes reading every night. He loves it. He thinks books are wonderful, and he’d be happy to read most any time. However, the time his parents have allocated for evening reading is the same time as the neighborhood kids get together to trek into the nearby woods together. He can sometimes hear their laughter as they go, and he feels sad about missing out on whatever it is they’re doing.
Imagine that after dinner every night, Travis heads into the woods with his neighborhood friends. None of them are great “readers”, but someone always brings along a couple of books. The kids spend their evening romp acting out elaborate plays and dramas based on the pictures in the books, putting together costumes, props, and backdrops from whatever they can find among the trees and in each other’s pockets.
Which student can read better?
Which student knows more?
Which student writes more?
Which student has a better vocabulary?
These are some questions you could ask about a school child.
What are some other questions you could ask?
Which child feels like they can probably do anything they set their mind to?
Which child is building amazing relationships?
Which child is more confident?
Which child is happier?
The problem with dogmatic, single issue focus is that it can’t tell you anything about the life of a child. Even if that issue is reading.