Required Reading: Good or Bad?
Having been home schooled all the way from elementary school through high school, I probably experienced things a bit differently than those in a public school setting. I was given more freedom, I believe, in what I could choose to read for school. And that's what I want to talk about, choosing what you read.
I think that required reading can be a good thing and I took several classes in college where there were required books. Some of these I didn't like, some of them I didn't actually read, and some of them I enjoyed. There was less choice in this than I had had previously, but at that age I don't think it's as much of an issue. Those taking courses that are going to focus heavily on reading are usually those who love to read and kind of know what they're getting into.
For anything lower than college level, I think choice in reading is important. I know there are usually lists of things that people can choose from, but sometimes these are a bit sparse on options. Teachers have a lot of students they are trying to help, so helping all of them find the best fit would be difficult. However, I think there should be some process (and I'm sure some schools have this) that helps students pick books that they are most likely to be interested in.
With math most people can pinpoint when their dislike (if they dislike the subject) came from. And do you know where that is? Usually in middle school or earlier. They don't feel like they're getting it, their teacher is discouraging, or the content and tests are just confusing. There are so many reasons why people fear math, and the same thing can be said for a dislike of reading. If you don't have a good foundation you won't ever learn to appreciate something.
While I think required reading can be a good thing, I think there should be more choice in the books being read. Students should be steered toward things that are the most likely to interest them. For some that might mean reading the classics, which are usually required at some point, but for others it might mean more of a focus on non literary pop fiction.
I'm a believer in reading. A person can gain many things from within the pages of a book, regardless of genre. Encouraging people to read what interests them will open a whole new world to them. This doesn't mean that classics should no longer be studied, it just means a different approaches might be needed.
What are your thoughts on required reading in school? Is it good, bad? Do you think you had enough choice or that this makes a difference? Share any thoughts with me in the comments!