We’ve all heard that reading will improve your vocabulary. And as a kid I hated to read. No matter how hard my mother tried to get me to read, well, I’d do it only grudgingly.
What I didn’t understand was, why was it so boring to me?
In order to tell you that, I need to give you a piece of my history.
When I was in second grade, on the first day of school, Mrs. Katherine Morrisy was passing out the books we were going to use for the school year. When she was done, she began to say; “Okay class, pull out your…” Almost every hand in the room went up. A smile hit her face and she asked what the problem was. In unison we asked; “Where’s our Think and Do book?” She almost laughed. She said; There is no more Think and Do books.” The entire class cheered.
Think and Do books did just that and more. It was a book that gave the student a situation and he/she had to figure out a solution, among other scenarios. But even more than that, it expanded our vocabulary on top of the half hour or so we had learning new words that was demanded in the school syllabus. Some “genius” decided that vocabulary wasn’t needed to be taught. We can just look at the other words in the sentence and figure out with the word means. Really? Look up the word “to”. Tell me how many definitions it has and then tell me which one fits in any given sentence without looking it up. One of the most evil, if not the most evil idea that hit the school system. That story took place in 1962. And that was the was the beginning to the end of a sound education.
In 1966, Mr. Don Blackburn, my sixth grade teacher informed us that people are graduating from college illiterate. I asked him how could this be? He explained it as students cheating on exams then went on to say that he had no other way of explaining it.
None of that made sense. Unless he meant that they were just not well educated or they were ignorant. Which is another definition to “illiterate” per New World Dictionary of the American Language Second College Edition.
I understand that things have improved some. Some definitions are listed on the borders of some of the pages in college text books. Very happy to see that. But there other words that are still needed to be looked up that may be not understood.
The importance of this can not be stressed enough. Student at all grades are being given words they don’t understand and it is the root cause of all the ailments psychologists call ADD and ADHD. They are calling it a “chemical imbalance”. Ask them what the proper balance of brain chemicals are.
Teach a student what words mean and the student will do a lot better both in and out of school. As a child and as an adult. We think more clearly with a larger vocabulary.
I have lived through the embarrassment of not having a thorough vocabulary. My best friends are the dictionary and a good Thesaurus.
According to thegardian.com the top four ranking countries in education in the world are: Shanghai China,South Korea, Finland, and Hong Kong China. The U.S is 17th in the world. If I recall correctly, back in the early 60’s, we were in first place. Or is that just nostalgic pride talking?
Who can answer this question: “Did you subrogate one meal for another last crepuscule?” Do you feel lost or confused? All I asked was: Did you replace one meal for another last evening?
If it still doesn’t make sense, go to a dictionary and look up the words you don’t comprehend. I promise, it will make sense when you understand the words.
When I learned this secret, I almost heard music in my reading.
I urge you, if you’ve been reading for only a short while and you feel sleepy or loose interest in what you are reading, or your mind starts wandering, look the word you don’t understand up in a dictionary. Your vocabulary will thank you for it. Plus, you’ll enjoy reading more. And that’s what I hope for you.