Education vs pleasure
Stephen Krashen wrote: Why is pleasure reading always the last resort in language education, especially when it is so effective and pleasant?
key words: pleasure/education
Those two do not go together in the legacy paradigm. Be aware (read Lawrence Levine’s The Opening of the American Mind) that reading novels was considered until recently a pass time for women and somewhat shady at that. Until WW I, British literature, which contained novels, was not taught in American schools, only the Classical literature of Greece and Rome. After WW I, British literature was admitted to the canon to justify our help to the British during the war. When WW II came along, the appeal was to the masses of Americans to fight for “our way of life”, and that way of life was embedded in our literature, which was not taught in schools. Only after WW II was American literature made a part of the curriculum/
So the whole idea of reading for pleasure, which most people think of as reading novels although we know Mechanics Illustrated offers great pleasure to some, was out the window if you didn’t have to struggle over parsing sentences with their ablative absolutes and deponent verbs, you must be engaged in frivolities. Coming down to our time, we forget how bitter was the struggle to include contemporary literature in the canon and in the curriculum and just how much of that musty odor of philology (which I love) and old texts lingers over our concept of education.
I tend to look to the historical roots of phenomena and this one in particular fascinates me, in part b/c it is closely tied to the Grammar Maven phenomenon with his quiver full of shibboleths.
Anyone wishing a bibliography on these matters can feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here on my blog.
Does anyone remember Marva Collins, the Chicago teacher who had “culturally derpived” children so enthralled with reading they were reading under the covers at night with a flashlight and they were reading classics. Those who see reading as a chore would have insisted on first teaching the children the grammar and syntax as well as pronunciation of Early Modern English as well as that of 18th and 19th century English before tackling any of those “hard” books like Ivanhoe.
Why is pleasure reading always the last resort in language education, especially when it is so effective and pleasant?