Reading role models

7 01 2008

A while ago a fellow parent asked me about an incident that had occurred in her daughter’s classroom.  She knew I was an advocate for libraries, and wanted to know what I thought of what she had witnessed that morning.

Upon entering the classroom as a parent helper, she noted that all the students were sitting quietly at their desks, as was the teacher.  The students were reading.  She approached the teacher’s desk, her entry still unnoticed. She spoke, and was still not acknowledged by the teacher, who appeared to be staring out the window.  It wasn’t until she was right next to his desk that he realised she was there, and with a start, removed the earphones of his iPod.

I told her what I thought.  Somewhere in there, the words “utterly disgraceful” probably passed my lips.  Clearly she was bothered, especially when she feels her 7 year old daughter needs more help with her reading, so I assured her it would be appropriate for her to take the matter further if she felt it necessary. 

So here is a class of, say, 20 students, in a school with no teacher librarian, and a classroom teacher whom I think it is safe to assume is not a reader. Who is their reading role model? If their parents are not (and I know plenty of very nice parents who would not read often, or at least not when their young children are awake) then when do these kids ever see an adult reading for pleasure? 

Each year the Premier sends out a list for the PRC, but is the Premier seen as a reader?  Is the school principal seen reading?  Are teachers seen reading?  Do any of these people talk to students about their reading?  Ah, but talking about reading is a whole other blog entry. This one is just about the reading example being set, or not, as in the above example. 

So did the mum in question take the matter further?  No, she didn’t.  She did think about it though, and concluded that the teacher appeared so embarrassed to be caught out, she felt that was consequence enough. 

He should thank his lucky stars he’s not my child’s teacher.