Using students’ reading experiences as the basis for changing what we do as English teachers, VATE Community of Practice is focused on the teaching of reading in secondary English classrooms
In many ways, the process of reading, and our experience of it, is intangible, illogical, confounding. When we ask secondary school students to explain what happens in their heads when they read, they mostly flounder. Most students have not contemplated the experience in detail or with any seriousness. They do it without reflection. When we ask them to draw reading, we open up a metaphorical and visual avenue for capturing complicated experience. What they produce is something raw, not framed by the language of curriculum and schooling but by their embodied, emotional, social and cognitive experience. What can emerge is something like this: A boy on his knees with a book holding a gun to his head. In this special edition of Idiom you will see more images like this one drawn by students in a range of Victorian schools. Some capture the magical experience of reading, the notion of travelling to other worlds through strangely unique and familiar visualisations. There are others who capture reading as something more difficult and unnatural. The value in surfacing these responses is that they force us, as teachers of English, to wonder, to make connections and to probe our practice.
Dr Amanda McGraw and Mary Mason