A Sad Note

rchrist5 at rochester.rr.com rchrist5 at rochester.rr.com
Thu Sep 23 06:24:18 EDT 2004

I feel like i have to reply to your comments about reading, education, 
and especially Tom Sawyer.

I am a teacher, 8th grade English, and in 7th grade, we teach Tom 
Sawyer. The kids love it, but, the book has to be taught––it really is 
beyond most children that age. The context of the book is really beyond 
them, it takes some background knowledge to fully appreciate all of 
Twain's subtle––and not so subtle––humor.

We are not a nation of readers; it's as simple as that. During 
vacations, I assign books to kids and the day we come back, we have a 
test on the novel. During the summer, my honors students had to read 
two books and write an essay, my regular kids had one book and also an 

After one particularly long Christmas break––2 weeks––a girl came back 
to class and failed the novel test on the assigned vacation book. I 
called her Mom to let her know how her child had fared. Mom replied 
that she knew she would fail, because she had told her child not to 
read the book, because it wasn't fair that the kids had to do work over 
vacation. Then she implied further––it also wasn't fair that the kids 
had to read, while their teacher took full advantage of vacation by not 

We are not a nation of readers––reading is not entwined in the fabric 
of our lives like television, Gameboy, soccer or hockey practice. We 
are not a nation of thinkers either––evidence the hypocrisy of our 
government and its leaders. We don't question anything––our press 
doesn't do it, and we are too lazy to do it. A free society must be an 
educated one, an educated one must be free. I think we have it pretty 
good here, so we've gotten a little lazy.


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