4 Ways High School Makes You Hate Reading

Helo

New member
Normally I dont send on stuff I read, especially Cracked. They're funny and all but any good information is usually drowned out by the bad.

From someone who had to read Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, and developed a life-long hatred of Shakespeare, I feel like this one is an exception.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-ways-...=Weird+World&wa_user3=blog&wa_user4=companion


And I do feel that high school, and school in general, makes reading into something that the majority of people just dont want to do on any serious basis. It turns it into a chore, a grind that must be completed in order to advance with no thought given to the actual enjoyability of the text.
 

nycindie

Active member
From someone who . . . developed a life-long hatred of Shakespeare . . .

Omigosh, I love Shakespeare! My mother had two volumes, all the works, and I read them all voluntarily before I ever got to high school. When I was in grammar school, my sis and I both looked forward to the reading contests our town library held, where we would receive a certificate if you read all the books on the list over the summer.

I don't even recall most of what we were required to read when I was in high school - except for The Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. But I loved to read back then, because it was such a great escape, so I never felt that reading was a chore. If I didn't want to read something they wanted me to, I didn't - it didn't matter to me what they told me to do or what my grades were. I remember getting an A on a paper about a book I hadn't read. I just paged through it, picked up a few phrases here and there, and wrote the essay. I was always smart, so that was easy. I eventually quit high school, but only because I wanted to work and be independent as soon as possible.

Now, if you ask me what I felt about math and science... that's a different story. Yuck!
 
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ThatGirlInGray

New member
Love cracked, love reading, totally agree with that article.

And I like math and science and have been a high school math teacher for over 6 years, so I'm WELL aware of what teachers can do to help or hinder a student's fondness for a particular subject.

My thing about book reading (as well as tv and movies) is that it's my escape time. I don't want heavy. I'm not looking to learn anything mind blowing. And I DON'T want to analyze anything. That what high school and college taught me to hate: guessing about what the author intended. Ask 'em yourself. If they're dead? Oh well, guess you're just stuck with finding out what I got out of it, cause I don't care to guess at intentions!
 

Helo

New member
Omigosh, I love Shakespeare! My mother had two volumes, all the works, and I read them all voluntarily before I ever got to high school. When I was in grammar school, my sis and I both looked forward to the reading contests our town library held, where we would receive a certificate if you read all the books on the list over the summer.
I'm glad someone enjoys him. After having Romeo and Juliet read to us in Ye Olde Timey script with the teacher pausing every two words to explain the modern equivalent to the Ye Olde Timey word she had just read should be put in the fucking Geneva Convention under "crimes against humanity." I was never so thankful to end up taking a Sci-Fi class for my senior year of high school rather than ANOTHER European Lit class.

I don't even recall most of what we were required to read when I was in high school - except for The Canterbury Tales and Beowulf.
And see that's part of the problem; I would probably have ended up hating Beowulf had we read it.

We read Antigone, which is actually a pretty awesome play, but we ended up hurling it up on the table and dissecting it unto death to the point where I just didnt want to even read the title anymore. Twenty plot maps and chapter summaries later you're so sick of the characters and the story you never want to pick it up again. And that was a story I LIKED. I was ready to start painting the walls with my own blood when we got to the obnoxious little twerp in Catcher in the Rye.
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
I also loved (love) reading so much, I'd always finish the required reading book a few days after it was assigned, when we were only supposed to read a chapter or 2 a week. LOL. By the time the class was done reading it, I'd already read another 5 or 6 books of my own choosing, and be all, what was that book about again?

I've been rereading "classics" this fall... Pride and Prejudice, Catcher in the Rye, A Moveable Feast, Through the Looking Glass. One appreciates the nuances more as an adult, without dissecting the book to death.
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
Yes, I had a problem with reading ahead too! Very difficult to remember what you shouldn't yet know about when you're being asked what characters are doing in this or that chapter or what is being foreshadowed.

I liked Much Ado About Nothing (still do), but we did it during Senior Honors English and got to act it out, rewrite the insults, that sort of thing, so our teacher made it fun instead of boring.
 

hyena

New member
There are certainly some bad teachers who put a quick end to the curiosity in their student base. I had a teacher in middle school literally pull me aside and inform me that (no joke) I was not allowed to READ anymore because the books I wanted to read (taken from the school library, at that) were "unfit and ungodly". But regardless of those regrettable few teachers, I think most of it is curriculum. I lived with an English teacher for a while who would routinely come home from work shouting about the god-damned-awful-shit-for-brains-no-talent-hack-book he had to teach. It is a shame that more caring, intelligent teachers don't get to teach what they actually know and love.

Oddly, despite being a misfit, anarcho-punk, auto-didactic little prick, I had a great experience in high school. My english/creative writing teacher gave me some of the best advice, experience, and education I'll likely ever have, and he was very accepting of whatever we threw his way. I once turned in a story about a person trying to commit suicide but failing because of his severe OCD - which at the time I thought was riotously funny - and he gave me an A and told me to never, ever bring it back into the school or he'd have to red flag me. I don't know so many teachers who would be that open and open-minded - and we're still friends to this day. (It also reminds me of a time when I wrote on a national standardized test about committing insurance fraud by burning down the school to buy new books and computers, except that one actually landed me in the principal's office to be searched for - exact phrase - "kerosene and grenades"...but that's a bit different)

What would you all say is the worst book you had to read in high school? Or best? Or most life-altering situation in terms of reading and writing?
 

Helo

New member
What would you all say is the worst book you had to read in high school? Or best? Or most life-altering situation in terms of reading and writing?
Catcher in the Rye would have to be the worst just for being bad. Holden is a whiny little bastard who complains about everything and that's basically the entire book. I want to just grab him by the scruff of the neck and throw him into Palestine or Syria.

I ended up hating Shakespeare but I don't necessarily think his work was bad in and of itself, just mediocre.

I did enjoy Ender's Game but I did that despite the class. Our teacher was extremely strange and during class one day when we were talking about the book and had gotten to a scene where the boys all run to the shower and the text mentions them being naked, she says, dead serious with no pauses, "He talks about naked boys a lot, I think its because he's Mormon, anyways..."

We were just kinda sitting there staring at her completely bewildered. We looked around at each other like "Did that really just happen?"

Because she insisted we spend so much time EXAMINING the book and plot elements we actually didnt finish the book in class but I got into it so I just read the whole thing on my spare time.

Honestly, I'd toss a copy of Days of Love Nights of War on every student's desk and give them time in class to read it. There's a reason I'd never be a teacher XD
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
Lord of the Flies was probably the worst for me, followed by Red Badge of Courage. Then Of Mice and Men, then Moby Dick. I don't think the lessons I learned from those books were anything like what my teachers were expecting.

Old Man and the Sea was okay. So was Summer of my German Soldier.

I didn't have to read Catcher in the Rye or the Great Gastby, so I still haven't. I did read Animal Farm on my own, but not 1984, and I tried Fahrenheit 451 but only got a chapter or two in before I stopped.

LOVE Ender's Game, but that was never a class book. I read that about the same time I got introduced to Heinlein and Neil Gaiman.
 

Helo

New member
Ohhh gods I'd almost completely forgotten about Gatsby.

I'll have to change my answer; Great Gatsby was unequivocally the worst book we read. It had zero relevance to any person in class reading it, it was not interesting, it was not informative, it was not funny, and it was as boring as a brass turd.
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
Oh, and speaking of whiners I've gotten the impression that it's a good thing I haven't read Wuthering Heights. Some day I suppose I should tackle The Handmaid's Tale and The Scarlet Letter, though.

I just realized I did a WHOLE SEMESTER of Philosophy in Literature in college. Awful. I should have known better but I liked other Philosophy classes I had taken. The Edible Woman wasn't so bad, but The Brothers Karamazov was just...GAH. I don't think I ever did finish it.
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
I don't remember reading Catcher in the Rye in hs, but I read it about a month ago and loved it. It was so moving! He was a "whiny little prick" because his beloved brother had died suddenly and tragically and it seemed he was suffering PTSD (to use a new term). I thought it was very edgy for the times in which it was written.

I adore anything by F Scott Fitzgerald so GG is on my favorite books list. However, I kinda hated all things Hemingway, since I was a radical feminist back then and thought he was too macho.

Otherwise, since I am 57, I can't really remember what else I read in high school. In college I haunted the school library and read everything they had by Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Evelyn Waugh, DH Lawrence and W Somerset Maugham.

There was a Kazantsakis book I read in a class that really sucked. So did the teacher... it was all so dry. And the author called womens' breasts dugs, which grossed me out. Funny the things one randomly remembers.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
My thing about book reading (as well as tv and movies) is that it's my escape time. I don't want heavy. I'm not looking to learn anything mind blowing. And I DON'T want to analyze anything.

I fully agree. I have a friend who's a book nut and she reads all the boring old books like War and Peace and The Scarlet Letter. I read YA dystopian novels and murder mysteries. I'm a grad student and I do a lot of reading for school, and all of it requires a tremendous amount of thought and analysis. By the time I come home, I want to turn off my brain and enjoy pulp fiction.

Yes, I had a problem with reading ahead too! Very difficult to remember what you shouldn't yet know about when you're being asked what characters are doing in this or that chapter or what is being foreshadowed.

I did that too, but I just fessed up that I'd read ahead and left it up to the teacher to be my spoiler alert. I never had any teacher be upset that I'd enjoyed an assigned book enough to read it "voluntarily."

I remember one classmate who always had that problem: he'd already read most of the assigned books years earlier. The teacher just didn't bother calling on him because she knew he knew the answer, and wanted to give someone else a chance. Also, she knew that if she let him answer, he'd takeover the class and turn everything into his own personal discussion. He tended to over-analyse books and disagree with the "assigned interpretation."

Catcher in the Rye would have to be the worst just for being bad.

I read that book last year, thinking "this book has such a reputation, I should read it." The whole time, I just kept waiting for there to be a plot. Finally I got to the end, and I'm like "that's it? wtf." Thankfully, that was never assigned.

We actually had good books on our curriculum. I enjoyed Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights... I can't remember the other classics we read. Dystopian novels were big in our curriculum. Had it been written yet, I'm sure Hunger Games would have made its way in there. We did Animal Farm in grade 11, and in grade 12 we chose one of 8 dystopian novels. I picked 1984 and I really liked it.

The Giver was another of my favourite assigned books, around grade 5. I keep meaning to go back and read it through adult eyes.

I ended up hating Shakespeare but I don't necessarily think his work was bad in and of itself, just mediocre.

We only did 1 Shakespeare play per year. I enjoyed Hamlet and Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet was so-so, and The Tempest was poorly taught but in hindsight not so bad in and of itself.

I did enjoy Ender's Game but I did that despite the class.

We didn't do Ender's Game in school, but I read it on my own and enjoyed it a lot. I was disappointed by the follow-ups, which weren't nearly as good.
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
The Giver was another of my favourite assigned books, around grade 5. I keep meaning to go back and read it through adult eyes.
Yes, I liked that one as well. I didn't read it in school, though. I read it as an adult when it was the assigned reading (in their English class) for some of my math students. I wanted to be able to talk to them about it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you get something different out of it as an adult than you did in grade 5. :)
 

Somegeezer

New member
guessing about what the author intended. Ask 'em yourself. If they're dead? Oh well, guess you're just stuck with finding out what I got out of it, cause I don't care to guess at intentions!
You may be interested in looking up "Death Of The Author".
For a basic description, though, it states that the meaning within a work is not defined by the creator, but by the one experiencing it. Or "it means whatever the fuck you think it means".

Also goes to Shroedinger's bit - "He tended to over-analyse books and disagree with the "assigned interpretation.""

Not that I feel anything towards the guy. I was annoyed by those same people in school. Who would just take over. I think they are part of the problem, taking away a lot of that enjoyment of reading at high school ages. I'm not one for fictional works myself, because I was just so put off by a lot of it through time.

I'd also like to say that ""assigned interpretation."" as you say... I also hated that. Not just because of the death of the author stuff, which is not something I would have thought about back then. But because at the time, I felt like a lot of what my English teachers were telling me it meant, was just over the top.

Not from any literal piece, but as an example: If there is a sentence "she sits and milks her cow", to me, that says there is a woman milking a cow, and not someone contemplating suicide, because of the widespread poverty of the era, leading to a major plot point a few chapters later.

Of course, it "did" mean that, because "that is exactly what the author said it means".

/rant
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Oh, I fully agree with you that the "assigned interpretation" approach is stupid. Everyone brings their own experiences with them when they read a book. Everyone has different frames of reference.

The teachers' problem is that they're stuck between that reality and the curriculum, which says they have to teach _these_ moral lessons in English class, and do it with _these_ books. So they have to fit a pre-determined interpretation into the books, whether or not they even agree with it themselves.

I think my problem with that guy wasn't that he disagreed with the "assigned interpretation." He would say "that interpretation is WRONG," as though there is One True Interpretation, and He had found It. That's why he would argue with the teacher. If he would have just said "I disagree for _these_ reasons" then it would have been fine. But he wasted the entire class time trying to convince everyone he was right and she was wrong, which is just arrogant and stupid.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land was on my required reading list for high school.:)

For real??! That's awesome! What did the teacher have to say about the group marriage concept?
 
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