Saturday, April 21, 2012
I still hate you, RIBIT
I hate RIBIT.
RIBIT was a Grade Eight reading program, and possibly the worst acronym ever: Reading in Bed. It's Terrific! I think it was a statewide program, maybe even national.It was so cheerfully enthusiastic I hated it instinctively.They gave you a bunch of forms with a manic frog on the front, and you wrote down all the books you read. There was a special trolley in the Goondiwindi State High School library for the RIBIT books. There was also a special trolley for the GRIN (Great Reading in Nine) books. God. But what do you expect from a school that has a sheep framed by some wheat as its crest?
I hated RIBIT because I was already a reader. It took me about a month to realise that expectations at that school were so damn low that none of the teachers really believed I'd read eight or nine books a week. I got sick of the raised eyebrows when I handed my forms in, and the jokey little "Yeah, okay, eight books...I'll sign it, but I know it isn't true" looks, so I started to lie about the number of books I had read. Just one this week, sir, when you could knock one over at lunchtime if it was particularly puerile. And most of them were. I don't know where they found those books for the RIBIT program, but for a kid who had first got stuck into adult books at around age ten, they were godawful.
I know that RIBIT was probably great for those kids who were suited to that reading level. For the rest of us though, it was sheer torture. We trailed around the other shelves in the library, desperately wanting to read something else, only to have the RIBIT trolley rolled out again.
RIBIT didn't encourage me to read more. It encouraged me to do something I'd never done before: refuse to read. Most of those books were more than terrible. They were patronising. They treated me like an idiot.
Never, ever, ever treat your audience like an idiot. Not even if your audience goes to a school that, at the time, was rated as the second-worst performing school in the state. Readers, particularly young readers, need to be challenged.
This fantastic rant by David Mitchell is mainly about TV, but the point remains the same:
Ah, formal education. Stifling creativity since 106 BC.
Did school ruin the love for you as well?