Thursday, December 2, 2010
I read at Franklyn Town Primary School in November. This is one of my favourite schools; it is representative of our schools which are in residential areas, overtaken by the city of Kingston. It has old-time classrooms, a large, bright and airy library with a very keen librarian, and a new ‘resource centre’, an air-conditioned room with computers (provided by a corporate donor). I read in the usual large room which can hold three grades; first, for the lower grades, second, for grades 4, 5 and 6.
Most of my stories have a girl protagonist. I’m accustomed to girls participating. This time I was totally swept away by the interest, energy and excited participation of the boys. Hands flying up, stretching out of their seats to get my attention, wanting to read, reading by themselves or in groups of three (had to do that to accommodate all of them).
Why was this time different? What are the variables?
Could it be the librarian and the process? The librarian had asked for info from me so the children could do research about my work. So the children knew about me, had used the technology to do the research.
Could it be that this cohort of children are more interested in reading? You think?
Could it be that the school has a male guidance counsellor? (male role model)
Could it be the author, who can be seen reading dramatically? (They have enough females in their lives not to be unduly affected by another one.)
Or could it be the books? The books all have cricket as a background to the stories (mentioned in a previous blog).
The students enjoyed The Lost Ball, which allowed for repetition and prediction; The Magic Bat which allowed for a brief discussion as to whether the bat could be magic, and Twins in a Spin, which posed the big question: ‘My brother or my team?’ Serious thing! So what do I think happened here?
It could be that the stories are short and allowed for interaction, (had them demonstrating bowling and batting at one point. In the classroom? Of course! Imaginary ball, imaginary bat!). However, I think that it was a real-life demonstration of what we have always been told. Boys will read what interests them! Cricket is a sport. It allowed for discussion about other sports. Question posed: In athletics, (at which we excel) where is there a team? Big excitement as answer shouted out!
Of course, there were girls in the class. However pictures of them reading had them facing the camera, so I didn’t want to put them on the blog. But the important thing is the boys reading.
We hear it said of countries where woman are not allowed to participate actively in the workforce that they are losing half of their productive potential. We are losing a great part of our productive and creative potential when we lose our boys! Can we save them, one book at a time? I don’t know, but we can try; along with other initiatives; who knows?