The Importance of Reading

Why the Method of the Education System Is Not Effective

Angéla Berki

Hello everyone, readers, non-readers, students and teachers. My name is Angéla Berki and today I am discussing the topic of reading and compulsory reading.

We start school at a very young age, and we first learn how to read, write and calculate. These essential learnings accompany us until the end of our lives and help us to understand others and vice versa. Reading enables us to learn a powerful amount of new information and to get a line on anything we want.

But reading is not only about gaining information about a topic. It is a free-time activity, an enjoyable hobby that develops our vocabulary, our knowledge about the world, our emotional intelligence, and makes our imagination more vivid. We can experience a lot of things from a whole other perspective, and the work can make us think about questions we would never ask ourselves. Free-time reading means we visit places and worlds while our bodies stay still in a comfortable armchair. For some it is an escape from reality and a form of dealing with real-life problems. Others may just simply enjoy spending time reading a nice book with a cup of hot tea. At the same time, unfortunately, it can become addictive and obsessive. It may distract us from the tasks we are supposed to do. Our vision can get damaged if we look at the pages or the screen constantly, so it is important to take some short breaks, so our eyes can relax.

During school years, the students have to read several compulsory books besides the huge amount of other material in the curriculum. In Hungary these are usually old writings from famous authors. Compulsory readings have various topics, such as battles of Hungary or love and romance stories. These books educate us and show how the world was hundreds or even thousands of years ago. The language is also harder than today’s tongue. And often it is really boring with long descriptive pages and actionless scenes. Most of the students think of compulsory reading as a burden, thus their attitude toward it is not enthusiastic. Sometimes the books are written for adults; the students are too young to understand the real meaning and moral behind the letters. This way it is hard to catch their attention, though arousal of attention is not usually the main aim anyway. A lot of students try to find loopholes to get out of reading. This whole system is somehow connected to reverse psychology; the education system just doesn’t realize that the more we force something, the worse the attitude will be toward it. And it is not only for compulsory reading. Some hate even the thought of reading because they were introduced to the wrong volume, so they have a bad experience with it.

The main problem of the education system featuring compulsory reading is that it doesn’t even try to catch the students’ attention. Our attitude to old books is shallow. The past is the past, and we are moved by novellas that discuss topics that we are also interested in. Some may find Antigone by Sophocles exciting, but we are too young to appreciate a writing like that, unless it is taught in a lively and interesting way, with enough time (which it generally is not). If everyone could choose any book to read and write a book report about it, the teachers would have the chance to see things from students’ perspective. Of course, there is no solution that is good for everyone, but ancient books can be included in the curriculum as a topic of ancient literature. It is surely interesting to hear about, to read about, but not to read. 

I personally read a lot and love reading but hate the compulsory readings. They are not eye-catching and action-packed enough for me. And I am convinced that if everyone had a chance to read about what excites him or her, a lot more people would sit down in a comfortable armchair with a cup of hot tea.