There’s a clog in his noggin

posted by Mel 

How do you react when a 20 year old expresses a distaste for reading and uses this as an excuse for performing below his potential? As if it’s OK to not read because you don’t like it– because some people just don’t and that’s perfectly acceptable? And it’s a valid excuse for not studying?

I know. I don’t get it either.

This disappoints me terribly. Putting aside the fact that books help pay the bills in our household and always have, to me “I don’t enjoy reading” sounds a lot like “I don’t enjoy sleeping, feeding, or clothing myself.” Neglecting any of these activities is likely to result in serious personal injury. He does not have a learning disability that makes it difficult for him to read, and he is of significantly above average intelligence. He wants to be an artist, and artists need context for their art. Context is something Eric is lacking; hence all of his big projects this semester have had something to do with skateboarding. It’s cool once or twice, but it’s time to begin deepening. Forget trying to have a conversation with him about the news, any social issue, history, religion, or, heaven forbid, literature.

My theory is that years of them darn video games have made a portion of his brain soft and mushy, and he’s just going to have to exercise it until it’s back in shape. So we’re working on that now. We bought him a book of H.P. Lovecraft short stories for Christmas, guaranteed to appeal to any young man’s love of the macabre and digestible enough to leave no room for excuses. I’d really like to get him into poetry, but baby steps… Unfortunately he’s a bit too old (and keeps later hours than us) for us to try to inspire a love of literature via bedtime stories.

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6 Comments

Filed under The boy

6 responses to “There’s a clog in his noggin

  1. It’s blasphemy to us indeed. Why do you think today’s kids are ADHD and don’t like reading? Video games. After the Lovecraft stories are completed, maybe try Edgar Allan Poe 🙂 Macabre and weird and interesting and more lengthy.

  2. vee

    Infuriating indeed. Though I do love the idea of you tucking him up with a bedtime story! What about talking books that he can listen to on his ipod or whatever. Not the same, I know, but it might help pique his interest?

  3. We’re also thinking about board games like Apples to Apples, Cranium, and Loaded Questions to engage the brain– make him observe and think and talk about what he’s thinking. I think just listening might be a bit too passive, but then again maybe it would at least get him “reading” things he otherwise wouldn’t read.

  4. missanthropy

    I just finished a research paper on the “I don’t like reading” mentality and how much more prevalent in young men it is than in young women. Research points to very early gender role stereotyping that pretty much prevails throughout our entire lives. Many teachers and parents subtly push girls into the quiet, submissive category where they are supposed to read and write silently while boys are perfectly acceptable being loud and brash. Girls are recognized and rewarded for their penmanship and maturity (monitoring the loud boys and reporting back to the teacher), while boys are frequently identified as having learning disabilities and take up most of the teacher’s time. Girls with learning disorders are hardly ever diagnosed.

    There is hope. If you can zero in one the kinds of things he likes and encourage it, he may just get into reading. Studies show it isn’t really a gender or learning difference so much as it is a problem with teaching and sex roles, unfortunately. Most educators don’t even realized they do it. But most boys showed a marked improvement in reading, writing, and comprehension after a couple of weeks of just a half-hour of one-on-one time with a reading partner.

  5. Thanks, Courtney! Now I want a copy of your paper! Maybe we do need to establish some kind of family reading time. Hey, they did it on Little House on the Prairie. We’ll just read Lovecraft instead of the Bible. 🙂

  6. Jay

    As a former librarian, I can attest to some truths in some of these comments. That said, boys read as much as girls if given books they will enjoy. You simply can’t expect the average 20yo boy to read The Kite Runner, or some other Oprah-Book-of-the-Month. Lots of boys — and 20 yos are still boys and girls except for their mommy-n-daddy parts — like non-fiction such as biographies and history. My 10yo nephew eats up biographies and National Geographic. My 16yo niece LOATHES to read as it’s not cool for popular girls to read these days. I don’t doubt Courtney’s research, but my experience having been a children’s librarian and having over a dozen relatives that are teachers tells me that not liking to read is as prevalent among girls as it is among boys.

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