If you work in education—in central North Carolina, anyway— you know that the merest rumor of snowflakes sends people into a frenzy. Mostly because 1) We must go buy bread and water in vast quantities, or at least the necessary ingredients to make big pots of chili; and 2) We want to be home quickly, because we really don’t know how to drive in this stuff.
Just to be safe, systems dismiss early, sometimes before any flakes fall.
Such was the case yesterday. The masses went home to stay glued to weather reports and social media, all the while asking: When will the snow start? How much will we get?
And the question of all questions: WILL SCHOOL BE CANCELED TOMORROW?
So, as a few flakes dropped in various areas, but not in others, as the evening wore on, the waiting intensified.
I amused myself by reading tweets to the school district about when a decision would be made about school closings. Many had GIFS such as these:
Those, by the way, were sent by staff. Not students!
Then the announcement came: There were, in fact, enough snowflakes to cancel school today!
Someone tweeted this as the parent reaction across the district:
Poor parents! And poor John Ritter, for that matter . . . is anyone else out there astonished that this will make fifteen years since he died?
By and large, however, there were hundreds of celebratory tweets from students with variations of GIFs such as this:
Many of those tweets said something like: “THANK YOU! You saved me and my grades!”
Okay . . . that really begs more investigation as to exactly how one snow day can save a GPA . . . and why grades are the whole emphasis of education . . .
Then there was this cheery admonishment from the school system: “Everyone stay safe! Kids, don’t forget to read!”
Truly warms the cockles of your heart, doesn’t it?
Except for a long thread of student responses like this:
“Don’t expect us to read, though.”
Reading that sentiment was, to me, like being impaled by a jagged icicle. My reaction:
Why do the kids hate reading so much? When they say “reading,” what do they actually mean? After all, they text constantly, they’re a huge presence in social media, and their choices of graphics to communicate feelings are both entertaining and dead-on. Today’s average student is quite literate, digitally.
I think—I shiver as I say this—that the aversion is to reading books. Whether it’s actual books or those on a screen is a moot point. My question is: How have we, educators, failed on such an epic scale to promote a love of reading, to the point that our students, especially those who NEED to read more, view it as such a hateful chore? As long as they feel this way, when will our students ever, hopefully, pick up a book that they simply want to read?
The year is young; there’s no time like the present. Snow days are ideal for thinking of ways to revamp instruction to help the kids get excited about books and develop a love—or at least a very strong like—of reading. Will they all? Truthfully, probably not. But that’s no excuse for not striving for something far better on their behalf: