One of the most frustrating things that I experience as a catechist is young people who are fully capable of reading but are reluctant to read. I’m not talking about reading aloud…I understand that some people don’t like to read aloud in front of others. I’m just talking about following along in the book as someone else reads aloud.
I especially notice this in the boys. As we read, some of them will just stare straight ahead, look around, doodle on the page, or fiddle with their pen, pencil, or other distraction. As we read, I’ll walk around and direct them to pay attention to the place on the page where we are, and they will “pretend” to read along for a while and then go back to the above mentioned behaviors.
I can only think that they are so conditioned to being entertained by images on video screens that they idea of reading words on a page is becoming foreign to them.
To top it all off, we don’t read out of the book for more than a few minutes at a time. We are constantly doing activities that embellish what we are reading. For example, on Monday, we read about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, one gift at a time. The text described each gift in 2 or 3 short paragraphs. After each gift was read, the young people thought of someone in their life who is an example of that gift. They wrote the initials of that person on a small tag and got up from their desks to hang the tags on small “trees” (branches) labeled with that gift of the Spirit.
One would think that this activity, moving back and forth between reading and moving about, would prevent the kind of boredom that reading alone might cause. Even so, getting them to focus on the reading for each gift of the Spirit was a task.
I experience the most success in keeping them focused on reading when they have to simultaneously (or immediately after reading) fill in a worksheet based on the text.
I’d be interested in hearing if others experience this phenomenon and what you do to respond to it.