Monday, March 10, 2008

Reading - rather the lack of it

While we are on the topic of books, The Cat observed on her blog that she didn’t see any students reading in the staging area at a recent robotics competition. I was there as well and I was similarly amazed.

There were hundreds of primary and secondary school students in the hall. Many of them were busy working on their robots, as expected. But there was also a large number who were just sitting and waiting, perhaps in between events. Some students from an elite all-girls school were studying their notes, presumably for an upcoming test.

Some were playing cards. A few were reading newspapers or gossip magazines. Many were just walking around, or just sitting there, looking bored. None were reading books.

As The Cat observed, the biggest difference between the elite schools and the rest is perhaps not in the output (how well the students do). Nor the input (the quality of the students entering the schools). It may be the attitude of the students towards learning, in what they do with their time. They are elite schools because they are able to cultivate a culture of curiosity, of striving for excellence, of working hard to achieve your goal, of the desire and ability to enjoy the satisfaction of academic achievement.

Students and books should go hand in hand, be inseparable. It is a sad day for me to see students without books, or books without readers.


Anonymous said...

Well, it's an indisputable fact that there's a difference in the input, and output of students in elite schools, as compared to those of other schools (this is how most parents grade 'elite schools' anyway). But to me, the learning atmosphere, the inspiration to learn and seek and accept challenges, and the cultivation of appreciation and compassion among students should be hallmarks of elite schools. Books, I mean good books, can indeed instil or encourage such fine qualities. If principals and teachers and parents don't read or share what they read, students won't read, and there goes our entire generation.
It's very sad that comic books (you know which ones) and gossip magazines, and the soccer and horse-racing pages in daily newspapers are staple reading material for most HK people.

StephenC said...

For those of us who are students, we don't have to take it lying down. I mean we don't have to be just products of the environment.

We can choose to be readers, to be active learners.

Let us seize the initiative for our own lives.