1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Age old problem

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by saluki, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    I am teaching a student who is just like millions of other students out there. Boy. Intelligent. Fairly able. On target for Maths Science. Struggling with English. Doesn't read. Spends most of his life on his phone. Professional parents. Not a book in the house.
    He is in year 10 and doesn't seem to have progressed since year 6. He hasn't read Harry Potter or Roald Dahl. Obviously he is struggling with 19th century texts and Shakespeare because he lacks the basic building blocks.
    Most of today's 5 year olds seem to have a plethora of Julia Donaldson books and others. Most 7 year olds seem to have a good reading age and read a wide variety of books. Michael Morpugo seems to be popular. When does it all go wrong? When do they lose interest in reading? Why do they lose their interest in reading? I must admit I'm not over impressed with the rubbish available for teenagers today (generalized comment). More importantly, how am I supposed to fill in 3 or 4 years of missing literacy??
    For example: if you haven't read Harry Potter and Matilda how can you recognize the stock characters in Jane Eyre's schooldays?? I, personally, cut my teeth on Mallory Towers and St. Clare's before moving on to Tom Brown's Schooldays, Jane Eyre and Dickens.
    p.s. last week I saw a male teenager in the local library looking for books to read - I think the breed is nearly extinct. Can it be saved?
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I'm sorry. Do you have a million dollars? Because that's the million-dollar question. Give me a million dollars and I'll have a stab at it!
    tonymars and agathamorse like this.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Short answer is electronic entertainment including TV encouraging instant rewards. It's slightly more nuanced than that, people seem to love the ongoing weekly sagas (Game of Thrones, Bake Off etc). Reading's too much effort for many.
    I can't answer your questions about solutions. I might try later.
  4. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Short stories? Fact rather than fiction? (No help with Jane Eyre, but something is better than nothing) Tie-in books to things he likes - computer games, game of thrones etc. or showbiz (or sport) biogs and autobiogs? magazines? Books where the text is broken up eg David Walliams, captain Underpants
    Sorry, not much help.
  5. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    It is the same with too many teenaged girls as well. If it isn't on U tube.... they don't wish to know.
    On covering Jekyll & Hyde I near lost the will to live in having to near enough translate every 3rd word!
  6. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Just an idea and not a new one, but as a starter, do dictionary races of the more complex words in the text - almost anything which has more than two syllables, perhaps. This works well with boys. (I fear I am sounding sexist, so will go no further)
  7. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Here you go:

    There are any number of cinematic adaptations available but here is a convenient summary for younger people:

    agathamorse likes this.
  8. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    My daughter is a reader, but even so, does not usually get stuck into a book until I kick her off her computer. There were two days this summer when she read a book before that point (her aunt obviously chose well on those two birthday presents). Reading is her first choice when kicked off the computer, but presumably some youngsters will have different second and third choices, so it doesn't take much for reading to be pushed out. Bedtime (with no screens) early enough that they read rather than sleeping is probably about the best hope.

    Her school started year 7 off with the Hound of the Baskervilles - I thought that was a great idea - challenging language, good preparation for other older novels, but fairly short and with a mystery to grab attention. (When I was at school we did half a nineteenth century novel most terms - we rarely finished them.)
    saluki and agathamorse like this.
  9. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Very common. And long standing. OP why is it a 'problem?'
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    How have you gauged this boy as intelligent if he is four years behind his peers?
  11. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    I presume he's been screened for dyslexia at some point? Many "bright" dyslexics work out strategies to cope with reading, but it's still more of an effort than the pleasure that fluent readers can get from it.
  12. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    "Screens" is a bit of a red herring here, I think. I'm looking at, and working on a screen, but my reading and writing skills are (I hope!) at the same level as on any other medium.
    mothorchid likes this.
  13. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    If he's "on target in Maths and Science"* then it's likely his numerical and non-verbal skills are OK. Many dyslexics have spikey learning profiles. Sorry for the jargon.

    * of course it depends how appropriate the targets are!

    And I think most experienced teachers are good at judging innate intelligence, where it doesn't always correlate to academic achievement.
  14. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    It's so sad. When I was a child, many years ago, we didn't have television, not much on the radio except Children's Hour, and having a book ordered for Christmas was really special. So when I discovered a library in our local town, where you could borrow books for nothing, it was a dream come true. And so, reading was special to us. You'll see that I write poems for children and children in my local primary school encouraged me to write for them, bringing in a poem each week. It was actually 4 boys who insisted that I put my poems onto an internet website so that they could read to them and listen to them again at home. Perhaps poetry at an early age, and poetry that they really like (written with good rhythm, rhyme, stories and pictures painted in words) is what helps them with reading when they're younger. I don't know. I hope so.
    Mermaid7 likes this.
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    That is alright, but the OP does not mention dyslexia.

    I think it would be a mistake to judge that a pupil with a four year deficit is intelligent.
  16. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    I know. I mentioned dyslexia in post #11. Do keep up. :)
  17. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I know you mentioned it but the OP did not. There is no point talking about this boy as though we know he has dyslexia. He might simply be what we used to call stupid. Some people are.
  18. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    I don't think it is anything new or to do with modern technology. Truth is that boys are probably more literate as a group than ever before. The problem is our point of comparison, comparing boys less interested in reading to those who were massively so obviously distorts the picture.

    The primary reason for boys struggling with literacy and reading is developmental. Reading depends primarily on initial development of language skills. We need to learn through speech how sounds and syllables bounce off of hard to soft intonation etc. We use that when learning to read, searching for a hard sound to close out A 'chunk' in to our short term memory so that we can focus on the next bit more easily. Once we associate that chunk, or series of chunks, with a word, it becomes reading.

    So why is it a problem for boys? Easy. For a start, boys are born different neurologically. Girls are born with a significant advantage for language, not because their brain is built differently in main structure, but because they are born with significantly more links between left and right hemispheres. This allows neurons to fire together more easily at an earlier point in development, and as the saying goes, the neurons which fire together wire together.

    Boys can absolutely catch up, they just need the environmental opportunity to do so in early years so that their language catches up. Unsurprisingly however, as a trend, girls maintain the advantage (as A population group) in to school starting age, and it snowballs from there. After that, the fact that most teachers teach in a literacy heavy style, read, copy, write, means that the gap can grow and boys can lose interest because the course is less accessible.

    While it is convenient to blame modern tech culture, the truth is far more prosaic, long standing and closer to home.
    saluki likes this.
  19. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    You will have to build bridges. There must be resources out there on how to make say Macbeth relevant to a modern day teen. Get them to describe a paragraph or characters feeling in emoji form. What would Romeo look like as a Fortnite character. Etc etc. As long as they do the exam in normal English.
  20. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    The boy?
    No, libraries are nearly extinct. My council has shut lots of libraries, but finds enough money for all kinds of other rubbish. When my children were young, we could go to the local library for something free to do on rainy days. Lots of parents actually started reading with their children as a result of this. Now, for families who don't read, it would cost them quite a bit to travel to the nearest library-and they don't.
    agathamorse, Flanks and Vince_Ulam like this.

Share This Page