Sunday, September 25, 2005

On the joy and enthusiasm of reading

From NPR's This I Believe, a piece by Rick Moody:
I believe in the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading. I believe in wandering through the stacks and picking out the first thing that strikes me. I believe in choosing books based on the dust jacket. I believe in reading books because others dislike them or find them dangerous. I believe in choosing the hardest book imaginable. I believe in reading up on what others have to say about this difficult book, and then making up my own mind.
And he goes on to talk about the importance of understanding the meaning of a book, an undescribable interactive process between the reader and the book, the book's author, the history of the book.

The larger context (here is the rant) is understanding the meaning of a book is necessarily beyond metrics, multiple choice tests and 'standards'. I don't think one can ethically test meaning in literature without introducing an authoritarian aura to reading. Meaning cannot be put in a box with five answer stems.

The process behind meaning is important, vital and essential in education. In this decade of testing mania, I hope we can keep our focus on the importance of reading the way Moody treasures it and fight to keep this intangibly vital essence of a good education intact.