I started a new job this summer. I work as a design assistant for a company that develops independent study courses. It’s my job to go through the high school English courses as if I was a student to make sure I can answer any questions that may come up as a student completes their online class.
So, basically, I’m getting paid to read all day.
For an English major like myself, this is a dream come true. Sure, I may have read Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address eight times as it’s featured in every semester of these online high school courses, but what a great opportunity to be exposed to other wonderful literature! I’ve read excerpts of novels that have made me giggle, short stories that left me with tears in my eyes, and several personal narratives that have been so inspiring I’ve had to run to the library after work to read the rest of the story. Needless to say, I’ve been having a blast as I’ve continued to learn through reading. Even if I’m not in school right now, I’ve been learning so much about literature, our country’s history, and about myself as I’ve read some amazing things that inspire me.
I often ask myself why I’ve grown into someone who is constantly reading and learning. While some friends are supportive, if not a little confused about my eagerness to read all day, others unashamedly proclaim that there’s still hope for me to have a normal life if I would only stop reading all the time. What is it that makes me so excited to keep reading after most students have decidedly taken a break from anything academic during their summer break?
After much contemplation, I realized that I simply love learning, especially through reading. Abraham Lincoln (whose Gettysburg Address I’ve read so many times I almost have it memorized) said this about education: “I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” Notice that he didn’t say it was the most important thing we could do as children in the third grade or as teenagers in high school or young adults at BYU, but as the most important subject anyone of any age or any situation can be engaged in.
As we do go forth and teach, I believe one of our responsibilities is to create a generation of life-long learners. We need to teach our students to be curious about the world around them and to be willing to make a little extra effort to learn just a little bit more. Because even if it means they’ve read Lincoln’s most famous speeches a dozen times, they’ll find something that opens their eyes to something new. And something amazing.