David Chen / The Daily Gamecock

Opinion: K-12 schools ruin students' desire to read

A lot of college students don’t like reading. I know that is ironic since you are reading right now, but many students don’t read books casually. While reasons vary, I blame the school system. Specifically, primary and secondary schools do not instill a desire in students to read.

If you are a college student right now, you have probably used SparkNotes or CliffsNotes. These guides and summaries give students the excuse to not read and allow them to succeed in classes anyway. Many English classes throughout primary and secondary schools didn’t prevent students from using these resources and allowed students, myself included, to coast off SparkNotes.

Another way schools kill students’ motivation to read is testing the material. Students read novels for classes through a lens of figuring out what the teacher is going to ask instead of reading them through an interpretive perspective. Standardized testing also kills students’ motivation to read. It puts students in the arduous task of looking through long passages of text to answer questions about plots that hold no relevance or practical knowledge. 

English encompasses two aspects: reading and writing. The curriculum decides what to read and write about, and students have no choice on the matter. If a student doesn’t relate to a book, they will have a hard time finding the motivation to read and not using an alternative source, such as SparkNotes. Teachers' lesson plans also lessen students' desire to read. If a student doesn’t read a book that they have to write a paper about, they will do poorly on the paper and will change their perspective on reading.

Students' attention is divided between other classes, so motivating themselves to read is hard. If they read the textbook for history and work on math problems, it is hard to also read for English class while balancing personal life and interests. 

Because of the stress and the lack of time, students don’t understand the importance or benefits they get from personal reading, such as vocabulary expansion, stress reduction, mental stimulation and better writing skills. 

Reading is supposed to be a creative endeavor. If you have ever read a good book and were able to picture the imagery expressed, you understand what I mean. However, because students aren’t taught to read about their personal interests, it is hard for some of them to understand. 

If you don’t relate to the main character in a novel or don’t see the relevance to your own life, then why are you going to want to read? Reading for personal interests negates this. Picking out your own books lets you cater to your own interests. In college, where I finally have the freedom to pick out what I want to read, I am able to explore reading as a hobby.

If you relate to anything I have written, go to your local library or bookstore and pick out a book you are interested in. Reading is great, and you can learn a lot through books.


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