I ask why? Why do my students expect something in return for their educational progress? Why isn't learning something new worth their time and effort?
With the first grading period recently ending for many of us, I began to see prizes or rewards or incentives being doled out for reading. I saw the results of reading becoming a competition.
I know that competition motivates some students. But when reading becomes a competition, we do not create lifelong readers. We create students who get to go eat lunch with the principal or go on a special field trip or get a pizza.
When reading becomes a competition, our students have their eyes on the prize, not the lifelong rewards of being a reader.
When reading becomes a competition, we create winners and losers.
And when it comes to reading, no one should ever be labeled a loser.
When we hear experts in the field say that volume matters, and then we hear teachers who make reading a competition say, "But look how much they are reading" how do we defend that? Because in some convoluted way, they are correct - students are reading.
Yes, we want students to read voluminously. Yes, we know a relationship exists between reading volume and reading achievement. But when we attach reading volume to a competition, no one wins.
For many well-meaning teachers, this is the way they have learned to motivate readers. I don't blame them for their efforts.
If you are a reader of my blog, or a Twitter follower, then I know we have many of the same values and ideas. Let's try to encourage these teachers to try something different. Let them know that...
When we talk about books, we create intrigue and curiosity.
When we live and share a reading life, we show students how reading can change us.
When we share the joy of reading, students have a better chance of becoming lifelong readers.
And isn't THAT the ultimate prize?