Reading in school [split]

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Reading in school [split]

Postby johntm » 2014-07-29, 1:50

Yasna wrote:I'm reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It's one of the many books I partially read/skimmed in school. What can I say.. my interest in literature came late.

I honestly think some of the forced reading in school turns people off to reading. It definitely did to me, particularly as someone who doesn't care to "analyze" reading in the way normally done in school. For a while it pretty much made me forget reading fiction can be fun. I could care less about analyzing symbols and whatnot in text, if I notice it great, but I don't get enjoyment out of it. I get enjoyment out of getting pulled into an entertaining plot. If I want to be intellectually challenged, or to learn something, I generally go to nonfiction. Not that you can't do those things with fiction, I just don't.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-07-29, 3:06

I must be the only one who enjoyed English class. Yeah, we had to read some bullshit novels, but we also read some cool ones and I liked analyzing them and discussing the themes and symbolism and whatever that the author intended.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-29, 3:40

mōdgethanc wrote:I must be the only one who enjoyed English class.

Nah, it was my fave, too. But I have a naturally analytic approach. Breaking down a work to understand how the writer accomplishes their objectives makes me appreciate it more, not less.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-07-29, 17:44

I may not have liked English class all that much (I think it was getting increasingly annoying), but I definitely liked it more than most of my other classes. Of course, foreign language classes were always my favorite. :P Sometimes history was better, sometimes not. But probably the most enjoyable English class I took when I was in high school was one that I took through a correspondence course. God there was some good literature I got to read at that time. :D I mean, there was even a short story (called "Like the Sun") by R. K. Narayan that was actually good, instead of being the weird and annoyingly classist bullshit that seems to be typical of his writing in English. :shock:

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Prowler » 2014-07-29, 20:51

mōdgethanc wrote:I must be the only one who enjoyed English class. Yeah, we had to read some bullshit novels, but we also read some cool ones and I liked analyzing them and discussing the themes and symbolism and whatever that the author intended.

I dunno how English classes are there but Portuguese classes were very hit and miss to me. I didn't mind reading some texts and doing some exercises but I really hated having to analyze poems from the Middle Ages and from guys like Pessoa. To this day I still dislike poetry thanks to that. I mean, how the hell are teachers supposed to know if we had the correct interpretation of a poem or not? I'm not gonna assume "the curtains were blue" has some deep meaning behind it.

As for books I had to read for class, well I liked "Os Maias" by Eça de Queiróz, then again, he's far form your typical Portuguese author. His books can be understood and enjoyed from anyone regardless of their nationality. Haven't liked any other book I had to read for class. School can really make a kid hate reading.

Oh and screw those forms we had to fill in after finishing a book. "What was the reason or the motivation behind the main character's actions?" etc.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-07-29, 21:03

Prowler wrote:Oh and screw those forms we had to fill in after finishing a book. "What was the reason or the motivation behind the main character's motivations?" etc.


Yeah, that's a thing I hate about literature classes. Too much focus on the message the work is supposed to convey.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby johntm » 2014-07-29, 22:20

Prowler wrote: To this day I still dislike poetry thanks to that.
I've always hated poetry. It's boring as fuck.

Oh and screw those forms we had to fill in after finishing a book. "What was the reason or the motivation behind the main character's actions?" etc.

I hated those too. Most of the time (until I got to AP/college level) half of those was regurgitating shit anyway. "Which of these three not-really-important actions occurred first?" Well, I don't know or care, this isn't helping me learn anything worthwhile.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Varislintu » 2014-07-30, 6:21

We at least usually got these lists in Swedish & Literature class, from where we could pick a book to read for class. I felt that was a really good system. The teacher usually organised them into loose genres, and even if sci-fi or fantasy was never on the list per se, there was almost always a "classic dystopy" section. I usually picked that. :P So I read 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, etc.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Prowler » 2014-07-30, 7:06

Varislintu wrote:We at least usually got these lists in Swedish & Literature class, from where we could pick a book to read for class. I felt that was a really good system. The teacher usually organised them into loose genres, and even if sci-fi or fantasy was never on the list per se, there was almost always a "classic dystopy" section. I usually picked that. :P So I read 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, etc.

Back in HS, we had to read 2 books per semester for our Portuguese class. The teacher's called it "reading contract". And if I recall correctly, we had to read a book of a list of Portuguese authors and then could pick a foreign book, as long as we read the Portuguese translated version of it, that is.

The first book by a foreign author I've read for school was The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. Found it pretty boring and insufferable to read through.

I didn't read Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 until some years after I had graduated HS.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Johanna » 2014-07-30, 15:08

I don't even remember having to read a book for class... I know we did since we had to write first reviews and later essays where we analysed the book more in depth, but for some reason I don't remember actually reading the books.

I guess it's because back then I read a lot just for fun, my average was maybe 2 books a week, and I don't think we were ever forced to read one particular book, or even choose from a list like Varislintu, so my solution was usually picking a book I was halfway through already, or had finished not too long ago :P

We did have to read things by the most famous authors, but it was always a chapter or two from one or maybe two of their books, or a short story or something like that, so that we could start the class by reading and then have plenty of time to discuss it. We also read excerpts from some foreign works, like Don Quijote, Robinson Crusoe, Oliver Twist and Candide.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2014-07-30, 17:39

johntm wrote:
Yasna wrote:I'm reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It's one of the many books I partially read/skimmed in school. What can I say.. my interest in literature came late.

I honestly think some of the forced reading in school turns people off to reading. It definitely did to me, particularly as someone who doesn't care to "analyze" reading in the way normally done in school. For a while it pretty much made me forget reading fiction can be fun. I could care less about analyzing symbols and whatnot in text, if I notice it great, but I don't get enjoyment out of it. I get enjoyment out of getting pulled into an entertaining plot. If I want to be intellectually challenged, or to learn something, I generally go to nonfiction. Not that you can't do those things with fiction, I just don't.

Yeah, it's very sad when literature classes do that with people (but sometimes understandable). Reading is so much fun, school should make you enthousiastic for these kind of things, in stead of turning people off. I really believe that it's possible to give good literature classes which make people want to read more in stead of less.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby loqu » 2014-07-30, 17:53

I hated, hated the kind of books we had to read for school. I don't remember many of them, but I remember I had to read El camino by Miguel Delibes and it was boring as hell. You can't make 14-year-olds read the "adventures" of some kids in a rural place in the post-war Spain and expect them to enjoy it. It's more fun to watch flies flying through the room in the summer.

Apart from the fact that, of course, all we ever read in school was Spanish literature. I think the first book not originally written in Spanish that I read was Brave new world when I was 15 for the Ethics class, and only because the teacher told us "you could choose any book that has a message we can discuss in Ethics class", so my sister recommended that one to me.

And if you ask me, Don Quijote de la Mancha is a big load of crap. I still don't get how it is so popular. Really, it can't be more boring.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-07-30, 18:20

loqu wrote:the post-war Spain

loqu wrote:And if you ask me, Don Quijote de la Mancha is a big load of crap. I still don't get how it is so popular. Really, it can't be more boring.

I liked the first part. For me, it was the second part that became increasingly boring. Or maybe I should say increasingly cheesy.

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Re: What are you currently reading?

Postby Johanna » 2014-07-30, 19:23

Nehushtan, in 'What are you currently reading (part 2)', wrote:Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck.

Shit, I just remembered, that one we did have to read in Swedish class. But it was the only one in 12 years.

In the second English course in gymnasiet we had to read To Kill a Mockingbird, but that was just my teacher, my twin sister's class read some Irish novel instead I think. I liked it though, we read it out loud in groups and then discussed what we had just read, and when we were done with the whole book we had a class discussion about it. It was nice to read something I wouldn't otherwise have picked up too.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-07-30, 20:36

loqu wrote:And if you ask me, Don Quijote de la Mancha is a big load of crap. I still don't get how it is so popular. Really, it can't be more boring.
While it's really damn long, I also found it to be one of the funniest books I've ever read, mainly just from the antics of Don Quijote himself. There's a certain kind of absurdity I like in humour.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Lada » 2014-07-31, 9:17

Prowler wrote:To this day I still dislike poetry thanks to that. I mean, how the hell are teachers supposed to know if we had the correct interpretation of a poem or not? I'm not gonna assume "the curtains were blue" has some deep meaning behind it.

Purtuguese system is just the same like Soviet one (in contemporary Russia it hasn't been changed). I remember a lesson where we discussed symbolism of green colour in Crime and Punishment. I wonder if writers really put something behind ordinary words, something that is not so evident. Reader is supposed to enjoy poem/novel and not playing with it like with puzzle unless it's a detective story.

Such lessons kill any love for literature. I haven't read any Russian classics after graduating. The system that makes you to read War and Peace at 15 and to write essays on "dialectics of the soul in Tolstoy's works" is insane. Tolstoy has fairy-tales, stories for children, even stories about his childhood and youth, but they make everyone to read something that ordinary pupil is unable to analyze and even read till the end. :evil:

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2014-07-31, 12:54

Lada wrote:
Prowler wrote:To this day I still dislike poetry thanks to that. I mean, how the hell are teachers supposed to know if we had the correct interpretation of a poem or not? I'm not gonna assume "the curtains were blue" has some deep meaning behind it.

Purtuguese system is just the same like Soviet one (in contemporary Russia it hasn't been changed). I remember a lesson where we discussed symbolism of green colour in Crime and Punishment. I wonder if writers really put something behind ordinary words, something that is not so evident. Reader is supposed to enjoy poem/novel and not playing with it like with puzzle unless it's a detective story.


Well, some of these works may have intended symbolism, but a lot of works don't. And who cares what the author's intention was, that's so old-fashioned, one should look at the text and the intertextuality in stead of boring symbolism... I mean, of course you can try to find hidden meanings of blue and green but I suppose most children find it way more fun to look at the similarities between Harry Potter and many other stories.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-31, 15:33

Prowler wrote:I mean, how the hell are teachers supposed to know if we had the correct interpretation of a poem or not?

If they left you with the idea that there is only one correct interpretation for a poem, then they failed to do their jobs. Only really bad literature has a single "correct" interpretation; anything well-written can sustain several. That doesn't mean anything goes. All interpretations still have to be rooted in the text. The fun of literature class was seeing which of the many possible interpretations we could actually defend by finding support for them.

One thing I think helped in my high school literature classes is that our teachers favoured poems and shorter fiction, i.e. plays, novellas, and short stories rather than novels. That meant that you got exposed to a wider variety of authors and styles and, if you really didn't like something, you'd be done with it sooner rather than later. The first Joyce I read was "The Dead" and the first Faulkner was "The Bear". I think if I'd had to read one of their most famous novels at that age, it might've soured me on them indefinitely. (We did read a Faulkner novel, but it was The reivers, which is much more conventional and accessible than most of this mature works.)
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Prowler » 2014-07-31, 19:59

Lada wrote:
Prowler wrote:To this day I still dislike poetry thanks to that. I mean, how the hell are teachers supposed to know if we had the correct interpretation of a poem or not? I'm not gonna assume "the curtains were blue" has some deep meaning behind it.

Purtuguese system is just the same like Soviet one (in contemporary Russia it hasn't been changed). I remember a lesson where we discussed symbolism of green colour in Crime and Punishment. I wonder if writers really put something behind ordinary words, something that is not so evident. Reader is supposed to enjoy poem/novel and not playing with it like with puzzle unless it's a detective story.

Such lessons kill any love for literature. I haven't read any Russian classics after graduating. The system that makes you to read War and Peace at 15 and to write essays on "dialectics of the soul in Tolstoy's works" is insane. Tolstoy has fairy-tales, stories for children, even stories about his childhood and youth, but they make everyone to read something that ordinary pupil is unable to analyze and even read till the end. :evil:

You know what else is similar? The grade system from 5th to 9th grade going from 0 to 5. I believe it's like that in Russia as well. We've adopted it back in 1975 after the revolution. Must have been the idea of the socialists/communists that had gained power at the time.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby johntm » 2014-07-31, 22:29

Varislintu wrote:We at least usually got these lists in Swedish & Literature class, from where we could pick a book to read for class. I felt that was a really good system. The teacher usually organised them into loose genres, and even if sci-fi or fantasy was never on the list per se, there was almost always a "classic dystopy" section. I usually picked that. :P So I read 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, etc.

Sometimes they let us pick books, but most of the time it was from a list, although sometimes we could bring something not on the list and have the teacher approve of it. That said, I still hated to be forced to read something, it'd still decrease my enjoyment of the book. Guess I'm just a rebel on the inside or something, but I don't like being told to read or when to finish the book by. That said, I may not mind as much now since it's more of a habit in general.

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:Yeah, it's very sad when literature classes do that with people (but sometimes understandable). Reading is so much fun, school should make you enthousiastic for these kind of things, in stead of turning people off. I really believe that it's possible to give good literature classes which make people want to read more in stead of less.
Yeah, it's sad but school did turn me away from some subjects, at least temporarily. I also think the type of literature class that will make a person want to read more will depend on the student. While more analytical classes and ones focused on the classics may fit for some, I hated those. I'd rather read what I want (some of it will not engage any form of higher thought at all) and not focus on pleasing someone with some answer about symbols and deep meaning that I bullshitted.

loqu wrote:You can't make 14-year-olds read the "adventures" of some kids in a rural place in the post-war Spain and expect them to enjoy it. It's more fun to watch flies flying through the room in the summer.

This but about a lot of things. I've had a few people tell me the reason I thought A Tale of Two Cities was a boring piece of shit was because I read it in the 8th grade (we were the "advanced" class). Well, who the fuck decided to make 13 and 14 year olds read this shit then? I think they should at first try and get you hooked on reading (through whatever means necessary, even if it's not the "classics" some dumbfuck English teachers loves) then try and have them analyze it. If they start off not liking it, it's going to be much harder in the long run. Actually, I did love reading at one point before school turned me off to it. I devoured Harry Potter books, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Left Behind* in elementary and middle school. Probably some more I forgot about too.
I also think making people take literature/writing classes like that every year and up into college is bullshit. When the hell am I going to do this type stuff in the real world? Never, not with the field I'm going into (or any of the ones I've ever thought about going into).

@Johanna: I did like To Kill a Mockingbird.

*Popular books about the Rapture based on the book of Revelations. I read the kids' version; I was a bit more religious then.
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