And I train them. I talk about reading as a central component of our writing class. I lead them, in the early weeks, painstakingly through a short text, showing them on a screen in front of the class the kinds of marks I make, what I highlight, what I write in the margins. I do it slowly, get their help, and tell them, "This is how you read for class."
I tell them on paper and out loud that when we have discussions on a text, they must do THREE things with that text first: 1) read it on their own outside of class, days before it's due; 2) think about the ideas in the text and come up with at least 2 comments (things they understand) and 2 questions (things they don't); and 3) write at least 2 paragraphs about the text to ready themselves to be an active part of the discussion.
And then class comes. And I stride in, open my text, sit among them, and say, "So what did you think? What about this text?"
And the crickets. And they go into slow motion shuffling. Some stare at the ground. Some look right at me, faking it.
Usually, after 20 seconds or so, someone says, "What page is it on?"
And then, "Was that for today?"
And the crushing pain I get in my chest begins.
And I know they haven't read. And I know that all I've tried to instill in them about work habits and the importance of reading has been wasted on nearly everyone.
And I feel like I've failed once again.
For the next few weeks I'm going to post something every Tuesday morning. Unless I forget to do my reading.