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Reading as Punishment

August 06, 1986

As a child, I sat isolated with tape over my mouth at the very same Miramonte School that now allows a teacher (Jacqueline Chanda) to punish children ". . . by making students do something they really hate, which is reading a book." Garry Abrams' article ("Emergency Teachers Recall Lessons of First Year on the Job," June 19) featured five brave emergency teachers ingeniously attempting to solve discipline problems. The idea, however, that reading ought to be presented as a punishment is counterproductive to a major goal of education, which is getting students to enjoy books.

Rookie teachers need an elementary course in children's literature and storytelling. They need the sensitivity to words and thoughts that allows them to lead children to the joy of books and reading. They need to understand that books, as gifts, are an appropriate reward for good citizenship.

HELEN WALDER ROGWAY

Beverly Hills

Contacted by The Times, Chanda replied, "As far as I'm concerned, reading is a pleasure, but unfortunately some of the kids don't see it that way." She added that during silent daily reading periods some of her students express displeasure with the idea of reading on their own. However, when she reads aloud to her class from a book, the class listens attentively.

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