May 24, 2010

Parents and reading

The other day I monitored the Grade 4 as they took their home language (Setswana) test. Most of the test was questions about a very short paragraph. About half read slowly and with great difficulty. The other half couldn't read at all. Heartbreaking.

I got to thinking. I could read better than that when I was four years old, before I ever went to school. By fourth grade I was reading John Grisham. Yet it had practically nothing to do with innate talent; rather it had everything to do with quality parenting. My parents didn't just tell me awesome stories, they read to me on a nearly nightly basis. One of my earliest memories is sitting in my Dad's lap, book open before us, constantly interrupting him: "What's that word? What's that word?" So I just figured it out.

This isn't to say that the kids here are doomed to be permanently left in the dust, rather another reminder that a great deal of what gives me my station in life was total luck on my part.

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