“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”
I love reading.
I believe that it makes me a better teacher and that it could make you a better teacher too. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a better teacher and to learn something every single day. It is what we want for our school children so why should we stop when we are an adult. Henry Ford once said “Anyone who stops learning is old whether at twenty or eighty. Any one who keeps learning stays young” and I want to stay young that’s for sure so if Mr Ford is right I’m going to read every day.
I didn’t always read. Not because I wasn’t able to but I told myself the famous old excuses, the same excuses that our students will give us:
‘I read too slow’
‘The book is far too long’
‘I don’t have the time’
‘Books are boring’
Do these sound familiar? I bet you have used one of them at some point. We all have.
Reading is highly enjoyable, informative, thought provoking, it can clarify thoughts that have been swimming around your head and bring new perspectives that you may never have had. As teachers, of some subjects more than others, we wax lyrical about the benefits of reading to our students who just aren’t interested. We must, however, ensure that we have a love for reading and that we have built a reading habit. This will allow us to model to students our good habits and share with them our joy of reading.
If you already read then please share your successes with others. Tell them about the books you read and what you are learning. How it is shaping your mind and your life. It will amaze you what comes back and how people love to share what they have read also.
If you don’t regularly read I implore you to start. It doesn’t have to be non-fiction or books about education (although I’d love to share my learning with you if you want to chat about it). We can learn so much from fiction as the characters and their personalities came from somewhere right?
So why should you start or have a reading habit? Why don’t we start with this study published in Neurology in 2013. The researchers demonstrated that reading can slow the cognitive agin process as when your mind is engaged in intense mental activity (reading a new book) it does better. You could compare it to working hard in the gym the more you train the stronger you become. Books are like protein shakes for the brain!
In short: Read. Use your Brain. Be better.
The biggest excuse for most of the adult population is that of time. Consider this, if you read only 10 pages per day you would read 3650 pages per year. This equates to 18 200 page books. Imagine the knowledge you could gain in one year from simply reading 10 pages per day. It’s not that much is it?
Here are some tips on how you could easily make reading a habit in your daily life:
- Set a time. You could read while having breakfast. Read while using the toilet. Read after dinner. Read before you sleep (we have all heard about not having technology in the bedroom but books are encouraged!!) If you read at all those times for 10 minutes that would be 40 minutes a day (roughly), plenty time for you to get your 10 pages done.
- Have a set place. Some places are just full of distraction so to give it your full attention I’d recommend having a quiet place at work or at home. If you don’t have one make one, it is worth it.
- Always carry a book. I listened to a podcast with Ryan Holiday (a brilliant author) and he spoke of always carrying a book with you so I have started doing this. In a queue, read your book. At your Childs gymnastic class, read a book. Waiting at the airport, read a book. Waiting in line at Starbucks, read a book. You get the gist.
- Instead of watching the news use that time to read a book. The news is bad for you according to this post in the Guardian quite a few years ago. The news is full of hyperbole and negativity. It fuels your negativity bias and encourages people to post on social media about the catastrophe and drama it promotes. How often does the news share good and great stories about the many amazing people in the world? Instead use that time to read a book. Instead of a newspaper, read a book on the science of how we learn. Wouldn’t that be much better for your students and children?
- If you have children read to them every single day. Reading books to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It develops their language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Do I need to say more?
- Have a reading hour. Further to having a set time you could adopt a reading hour. Many personal development advocates like Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Hal Elrod etc etc. All advocate a power hour of learning. Adopt it and read as much as you can. The more you learn the more you grow and the more you know the more you realise you don’t know. So you learn some more. Isn’t that just magic?
- Start or join a book club. Sharing and collaborating is one of the great joys of life (in my humble opinion) so reading with an aim to share is a great way to build reading into your life as it will make you want to do it and contribute to the discussion. Being a part of. book club helps with decreasing the stress of reading as you are ‘in it together’, encourages you to finish books, allows you to gain new perspectives as everyone will understand t=it differently and it has also been shown to boost teamwork skills!
I hope this post helps you foster a love of reading. It really has moved my thinking forward and I feel confident when offering my thoughts and opinions as I have worked through them in the books that I read.