Way back in the last century, in those heady (and I mean that literally), hippie days of the 1970’s, I was schoolchild. And a damn good one if I do say so myself. Ok, I had a little difficulty with the whole “borrowing” part of subtraction, but I blame that on inadequate instruction. For the most part, I paid attention, did my assignments, and played nicely with others. And I loved, loved, loved to read.
By the time second grade rolled around, I was competently reading several grade levels above my age. The material we read in class offered me no challenge, but I didn’t mind. A good story is a good story, at whatever level it is written. What gave me trouble, though, was the heinous group-education procedure known as round-robin reading.
I’m sure you remember this. Everyone in the class has a copy of the book in front of them. Everyone in the class takes a turn reading a paragraph or a page. Out loud. Not everyone in the class reads well. Actually, few do. If you are a good reader, listening to a mediocre reader utter their paragraph in a steady monotone is painful. Listening to a poor reader grasp and claw their way through the text, requiring prompting and decoding assistance from the teacher for every other word, is tortuous.
I can only imagine how the child who doesn’t read well feels, struggling that way in public, well aware of the pressure of the stultified good readers who have long since abandoned the pretense of following along and have now finished the book.
Fast forward to the 21st century and consider my daughter. Little Bit is in the second grade. She loves to read, and does so competently, several grade levels above her age. And yes, she too is tortured by this heinous procedure. In fact, she spent much of our dinner together this evening lamenting the fact that few kids in her class read well enough to be happily listened to.
Elder daughter Tigger had the exact same complaint a few years ago. Fortunately, she’s in sixth grade now and her teachers have found other methods of torturing students, like making girls and boys work together, even when they don’t like each other. Even when they liked each other last week, but now definitely do not. And especially when they liked each other the year before, but they broke up. Eeew.
There’s no way around it, I guess. If the teacher tells the class to read said book or story on their own, some will read it quickly, some will only make it partway through the text in the allotted time, and some will never read it at all. Making them read it out loud ensures that they’ve all at least heard the story. And reading out loud is a skill in and of itself. Indeed, many adults still do it poorly. So it is worth teaching, right? Nevertheless, if any of you made it all the way through school without being subjected to round-robin reading, look both ways carefully when you cross the street, because you can’t expect to be that lucky all your life.