Reading for Learning: You're Already Doing It

Reading is such an important part of how people learn, and I don’t think modern pedagogy reflects this. I see reading as being the natural way people learn about things, without the help of teachers and schools. It’s the first thing people do when they want to know about something.

You could argue that not everyone enjoys reading, and some find it so boring or so difficult that it’s impossible to learn anything because of the sheer amount of effort it takes to do the actual act. I disagree, I think it is the content that people find boring or difficult, so that for every person you could find a subject they would want to read about, and a level of reading difficulty that wouldn’t distract from the learning.

Also, some people just expect learning to appear in their head with no effort whatsoever.

Notice how I say people, and not students. I don’t propose to let some students read Heat magazine just because that’s what they find interesting, or have teachers produce the same information at different reading levels for every student.

Still, I hate the fact that reading comes at the bottom of the pile, below practicing, demonstrating and discussing. Where do you get the information from that you then practice, demonstrate and discuss? You read it.

Even in the best types of classroom activity, such as the home/expert group (, it starts with reading. Reading first, then sharing and thereby consolidating what you’ve read.

So there are not only ways of integrating reading in a way that does work in the classroom, but, it actually forms the basis of most of the best classroom activities. I think this is completely denied, by frameworks such as the learning pyramid and others.

I think it encourages teachers to ‘sneak’ reading into more entertaining activities, thereby leaving students with the impression that reading is not the way to go about things. I’m all for tricking students into doing things they otherwise wouldn’t, as a music specialist for me this was usually singing. But you need to acknowledge what you’ve done afterwards: i.e. ‘you just sang well in front of everyone’ and ‘you just read something and learned’.

What are your views on reading in the classroom? How do you use reading in your teaching practice? Have you been criticised for excessive encouragement of ‘straight’ reading in your lessons? I would love to hear from you, and as always, if you’re having any problems you’d like to discuss in private, please email me.


Post a Comment