I was forced to teach a freshman writing course from this book. It was awful (the course and the book). The book claims to be a reader, a rhetoric, an...moreI was forced to teach a freshman writing course from this book. It was awful (the course and the book). The book claims to be a reader, a rhetoric, and a handbook. What it really is? Unsatisfactory on all three parts. There's not enough in it for it to be an effective reader, and the selections are all very, very short, not demanding or challenging at all. The rhetoric portions are dull as dirt. Granted, it's hard to make rhetoric and argument theory interesting to freshmen, but it wasn't interesting to me, either, and I've chosen this as my profession. That should indicate a problem. The handbook information is clear enough, but only gets in the way of the other parts of the book. If you want your students to have a handbook, have them buy a handbook, or, as I do, point them to reliable online resources for the same information. (Purdue's online writing lab is wonderful for this very purpose.)
Maybe others have had better luck with it than I have, but it would require a LOT of outside materials to make up for the deficiencies of this text. Overall, this book deserves to be done away with. (less)
In many ways, this book reads as a 168-page statement of the blindingly obvious. Most students are not in school because they love American literature...moreIn many ways, this book reads as a 168-page statement of the blindingly obvious. Most students are not in school because they love American literature or writing. They are not in school because they love history or anthropology or whatever subject they're studying. They are here because this is a step in 1) becoming an adult, and 2) getting a job. Some students do love the subjects professors teach, but even if they do, there are a lot of pressures bearing down on them. She actually states in the final chapter that this experience has reminded her that students have lots of other classes besides hers:
"So it always comes as a surprise to me that students appear clueless about what happened in the last class, that only a minority of them have done the reading assigned, and that almost no undergraduates ever show up for my office hours unless perhaps they are failing. I see now what I didn't see before. In the time between my Tuesday and Thursday classes in introductory anthropology I have taught only one other class, and I have spent at least some time on Wednesday arranging my Thursday class presentation. By contrast, my students have had at least four other classes in between, maybe more, and they have completed many other reading and writing assignments in the interim, in addition, perhaps, to working a job and attending residence hall or club programs. If they were like me as a student, they feel virtuous that they're present for class, that they remembered to bring the right notebook, and that they managed to catch a bus that has delivered them on time. When class ends at 10:50, they will be off to another bus and another class, because they have designed a schedule, just as I did as a teacher, that apportions blocks of work and free time. While I am there for office hours right after class, they are taking another class with another professor who starts right on time to discourage lateness" (136).
Can I get a resounding DUH?! This passage represents precisely why I feel like this book is flawed. Nathan may address all the questions laid out in her introduction, but she does so with this attitude that the things she describes are interesting or new--or something. Sadly, however, although this book didn't do much for me, I can see it being useful for others because clearly there are lots of teachers (and administrators) who are completely disconnected from student life and who have completely forgotten what it's like to be a student. (less)
This book is fabulously useful. I don't teach adolescents (her book is directed to those who teach students in high school or below); I teach college...moreThis book is fabulously useful. I don't teach adolescents (her book is directed to those who teach students in high school or below); I teach college students. But I still encounter the problems she addresses here, including students who fake-read, students who can't gain a basic understanding of texts without relying on the teacher or other students, and students who don't know how to create their own meaning from and truly interact with the text.
I took detailed notes on this book and plan to use some of her ideas in my classes at the beginning of next semester, knowing full well, of course, that not all students will need these techniques but also knowing full well that many will benefit greatly from being taught more explicitly how to read. Plus, it can't hurt the ones who already know how to read to have a little refresher. (less)
This is a really great, practical book about what teachers (particularly elementary, middle school, and high school teachers) can do to both prevent "...moreThis is a really great, practical book about what teachers (particularly elementary, middle school, and high school teachers) can do to both prevent "readicide" (the death of any interest or joy in reading) and encourage recreational reading. It's short, handy, and very convincing.
As a college teacher who gets to teach the students who have already been through a system that can crush any desire to read for fun, I would love to see more attention paid to what I can do in my position in addition to the attention given to earlier stages of education. I don't have a classroom space of my own and I have far less time with my students, so some of his suggestions just don't transfer very well to my situation. I look forward to giving this problem some thought, though, and attempting to allow my students more space to learn to enjoy reading again. (less)