Rich Howell: Reading versus listening |

Rich Howell: Reading versus listening

In elementary classrooms, one of the daily high points for students is when they sit, relaxed, and listen to their teacher read. They hear great stories, often above their reading level, read with skill. Such readings use exceptional literature and language to inspire kids to become devoted, knowledgable, and skillful readers themselves.

Our school used a reading testing program where students would read a book and then take a test to assess their literal comprehension. I discovered, over time, that when students tested on the books I read to them, they scored far lower than when they read the books themselves. Eventually, I concluded that the act of listening was significantly different than that of reading the very same material. They lost the time for reflection. Though they enjoyed the stories, the details left them and only the sentiment remained.

Many adults listen to their “news” these days. Listening to news, mere “bytes” of news delivered with passion, is its own message. Television news communicates attitude and point of view, but not depth, and allows no time for intelligent reflection. Print journalism may be old fashioned, but it is a more reliable bulwark against the propaganda which currently separates us.

Rich Howell

Nevada City

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