UNITED STATES—I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to reading material in the classroom I easily get bored. It takes a lot for a book to REALLY grab my attention and not let it go. The last book that I can recall that I couldn’t put down after picking up was a book I read in my literature class, “The Cement Garden.” It was about a group of kids who were trying to survive in the midst of their parents dying. There was incest, suspense, great characterization and so much more.
It’s like nowadays it’s hard to find a novel or any reading material that instantly hooks you and refuses to let you go. I find this especially the case in most academic classrooms. I’m the type of reader that if the material doesn’t grab my attention in a matter of a few pages, than the likelihood of me remembering anything from the book greatly decreases. This is not to say that I’m not focused when I read, because I am; no television, no music, quiet room and alert.
It could also be the fact that when you’re an undergraduate and a graduate student the level of reading material intensifies to epic proportions. I mean this past week I had to read over 75 pages of material in just 2 days. Was it a hard read? NO, but I must acknowledge the first two chapters were way more intriguing to read compared to that third chapter which I thought just was a difficult read. The material wasn’t that engaging and didn’t bring much to the table to keep the reader attuned to what was happening.
Reading academic material is not fun. I think it’s more of a point of the teacher/professor considering that not everyone digests and maintains material to the same degree that they may. Knowledge is a powerful thing, but to read 50 pages of material in one day and be expected to summarize it into a few sentences for most students is no easy thing to do. Comprehending something and fully understanding something is not the same thing people.
Are teachers relying too much on the textbook to convey the material at hand to the students? Perhaps, but to be honest I think most professors prefer to NOT even use a textbook in the classroom. Some rely on their personal notes and material versus pulling from another writer. I can argue this case as I recently took 2 courses over the summer that did not require books whatsoever, and my ability to maintain the material taught by the professors were higher than anything I ever expected people.
These were not easy courses either, the material had its level of complexity, but the professor found a way to engage the students with the material to make it easy to decipher EXACTLY what was being taught. This column is not aimed to make people stop reading, its aim to raise questions about the reading material that is selected in the world of academia. You can tell a student a million times to read the material, but if they are unable to make a connection or find something interesting in the reading material, it makes it that much harder to maintain the knowledge that we are expected to absorb people!