On Mises.org, Neil Tokar hypothesizes about why today’s students resent reading and what will result from that resentment.
Mr. Tokar traces this issue back to a lack of phonics-first reading education early on in students’ academic careers. He asserts that the current use of a “whole-word method” of reading instruction decreases student vocabulary levels in later grades (which renders complicated texts inaccessible to many students).
While the article is lengthy and it goes off on a few dark tangents, the issue of students’ not reading is very real — as many of us know all too well. Many students express their hatred of reading with the same convictions as if they were stating that they hate ranch dressing on their salads. (“No big deal. I just prefer something else for me.”)
Complaining about students is fun; yet with every speculation as to why millennials hate reading, solutions must be put forth if anything is to change. One of the first steps that helped me increase rigor is convincing myself that my students are academically motivated. Contrary to popular belief, many students do want to be challenged. If they have “to read more than they are used to” in order to pass a course, many of them will jump over that bar.
Pessimistically teaching to the lowest common denominator is a recipe for misery.