Choice: The One True Motivation

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CC Flickr: Scott Billings

In high school, I was a voracious reader. I devoured anything and everything. I combed through the library shelves every few days looking for titles that jumped out at me. I had a choice, and so I read.

My love for reading didn’t come from whole class novels or assigned readings. It wasn’t from reading a short snippet and then analyzing. I loved falling to the words, watching them swirl into pictures in my mind. I loved walking down paths that my feet were familiar with. I loved following the adventures of a new experience.

When I fell in love with reading, my comprehension soared along with it. I challenged myself to read harder and harder texts. I pushed myself into the classics, determined to read and understand them. When my reward for reading was intrinsic, it was then I grew.

I want every single student to be able to experience reading the way I did. I know I do not have the perfect road map, but I do have a deep love of reading. It’s that love and passion that I want my students to experience.

When you take away choice, you take away motivation to read. When you take away motivation to read, you are hindering your students. Chances are, their reading abilities will suffer. They will read only because they have to. If they can get by without it, they will.

Passion for reading will fizzle out all too quickly and students will leave the classroom with no inclination to pick up any book.

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Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller 

Donalyn Miller writes of the importance of reading in her book. Reading improves the education of our students. Reading improves the empathy of our students. Reading helps to grow the way our students see and shape their world. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not willing to throw this away just to attempt some semblance of control in my classroom.

I’m accepting that I’m going to have to throw control to the wind, believing firmly that it will be worth it.

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6 responses to “Choice: The One True Motivation

  1. Get outta control, why not? Right? Great post I was like you in school starting in grade school when my parents started a private library at home it was there that I had (it seemed) everybook I could imagine at my finger tips. Readers Digests, everything they published my Mom ordered and Scholastic readers and then the Nancy Drew, Happy Hollisters, Little House on the Prairie, I spent a lot of my free time in that room I do not ever feel I missed out on anything.

    • That’s awesome! It’s amazing how that blossomed you into the reader you are today. The ability to make your own decision sparked your love.

  2. I feel like choice is a very important factor, and I feel that we as educators have an important role to play within that context. We have the ability to provide suggestions if a student seems lost and offer them possible choices that they may not have thought of or known about. What do you think? Great post!

  3. It is important that we encourage students to read anything rather than encouraging them only to read classics or assigned reading. I really enjoyed your picture of the statistics! That’s amazing; more reading simply means better academic scores. Great blog post!

  4. This is such an important post. You’re absolutely right: no one fell in love with reading from assigned reading or analysis. And while I can appreciate learning standards and want to be sure I meet them and do my job as a teacher, my number one job is to make sure my students fall in love with reading.

    • Exactly! Our standards are a guideline that can help us get students where they need to be, but we can cross a point when we care far too much about them.

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