SHAMING EXERCISE?

GIKUNDA ASHFORD: Humiliation makes children hate reading

Teachers make books and reading a constant source of possible failure

In Summary

•In any case, the child who has made the mistake feels foolish, stupid and ashamed.

•To overcome reading and book fear,  learners should skip parts of the storybooks they find boring

A child with various books opened
A child with various books opened
Image: FILE

For most children, a school is a dangerous place and their main business is staying out of danger as much as possible. Books are among the most dangerous things in school.

This is because, from the very beginning of school, teachers make books and reading a constant source of possible failure and public humiliation.

Teachers make children read aloud, before the other children so that we can be sure they know all the words they are reading.

This means that when they do not know how to read a word, they will make a mistake in front of everyone.

Instantly, they are made to realise they have done something wrong.

Perhaps some of the other children will giggle, nudge or make a face and the teacher will say, are you sure? or ask someone else what they think.

To overcome reading and book fear,  learners should skip parts of the storybooks they find boring, words they are unable to read or keep away the whole book altogether and pick another book. 

Some teachers just smile – often one of the most painful punishments a child suffers in school.

In any case, the child who has made the mistake feels foolish, stupid and ashamed.

This is the beginning of making our children hate reading because they associate reading with humiliation and embarrassment especially in front of their peers.

Their peers matter a lot. Their opinion counts. Reading aloud is one of the exercises children loathe in school because of the way teachers conduct it.

It becomes a shaming exercise. Children grow up with the self-awareness that reading ‘badly’ is a source of trouble when instead teachers should seize that moment to correct and rectify the learner.

To overcome reading and book fear,  learners should skip parts of the storybooks they find boring, words they are unable to read or keep away the whole book altogether and pick another book.

That way, learners know that they do not have to struggle reading what they do not like.

Even in life, we do not keep hanging around people we do not like so why should we stick to books that harass us! One does not have to read a book from page to page. You can always skip some pages. Let our learners read what they like and the way they want.

 

MA student in Project Planning and Management at the University of Nairobi

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris