Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mystified and Horrified

On Tuesday, I took my sophomores to the library. The purpose was to get a book to read - a book of their choosing. I know this sounds ridiculous to even have to say WHY I took them, but anyone who's a teacher will nod and say, yep, gotta tell them.

And I did. I thoroughly explained why we were going and that we would be reading in class. I'll set time aside for us to read for fun (here's a foreign concept), and when they are done with their work, they will read then. This, I told them, is for all of you who ask that ridiculous question: Why do I do now that I'm done with my work?

Unfortunately, right before I told them this eye-opening information, I had given them a research assignment on World War II, as we are beginning the novel Night by Elie Weisel. So, when we got to the library, I had a lot of students thinking they had to get a book for that oral presentation. No, I told them. Well, what do I get then, they asked. A book you're interested in reading. Huh? they said.

Dear God, I prayed.

You get a book on anything - whatever interests you. You like cars, get a book on cars. You like mysteries, get that. Anything!

Oh, they said.

There were probably six to eight students in my sixth period who honestly did not get that is what you can do in a library. You can pick a book about something you like and read all about it! I am not joking, and I am not exaggerating. They did not get that. They did not know that.

What exactly has happened to these teen-agers the last 15 years of their lives I do not know. Didn't their parents - or an uncle or a grandma or a SOMEONE - take these kids to the library? I know some teacher along the way did. Right?

Did these soon-to-be adults simply forget these experiences? Do hormones completely eradicate specifically chosen memories?

I just don't get it. Is it the kids or is it the parents? Is it the educational system or the biological system? Who the hell has the answer to this question?! Who the hell can explain to me - an educator of 12 years - why 10th-grade students do not understand what a library is?