GRE Argument Essay 236

The following appeared in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

“Too much emphasis is placed on the development of reading skills in elementary school. Many students who are discouraged by the lonely activity of reading turn away from schoolwork merely because they are poor readers. But books recorded on audiocassette tape provide an important alternative for students at this crucial stage in their education, one the school board should not reject merely because of the expense involved. After all, many studies attest to the value of allowing students to hear books read aloud; there is even evidence that students whose parents read to them are even more likely to become able readers. Thus, hearing books on tape can only make students more eager to read and to learn. Therefore, the school board should encourage schools to buy books on tape and to use them in elementary education.”

The given argument mentions the overemphasis laid on reading skills in elementary school. According to it, reading is a lonely activity and lack in reading skill turns away students from studies. The author suggests an alternative in books recorded on audiocassettes and supports his view with the well established studies that value allowing students to hear books read aloud. He strongly recommends school boards to encourage schools to buy books on tape for elementary education, in spite of their high costs.

However, the given argument is simply not acceptable. First of all, reading is not a lonely activity. There can be a number of ways to encourage students to read well. Reading sessions held in classrooms give opportunity to every student to try and read. This is more of a group activity where the whole class is attentive in picking up the right skill. Individual weaknesses can be focused on by such regular sessions. Generally, the weaker students are advised to practice more at home. The exercise can slowly develop reading skill as well as confidence in the child. Though, over stretching the exercise in a monotonous manner can prove to be a lonely and discouraging activity.

As far as overemphasis on reading at elementary school level is concerned, it is based on the simple laws of learning. Students are taught to read, write and speak. Turn wise, equal emphasis is given on each skill, in order to enhance overall learning. Further, the author’s view that inability to read turns away the students from studies, does not hold good. There are many other activities and skills like writing, composing learning etc in which even poor readers do well, with interest.

The example of studies cited above states that students can learn and may become good readers by hearing itself. Though it is quite possible, the best way to do anything is to practice it. The same applies to reading. There is no question of may be or may be not for a student who regularly practices reading; he will definitely become a good reader which will help in going a long way in future. The author’s assertion that books on tape will make students more eager to read and learn, is not convincing. Though, some students may enjoy this transformation, it would be primarily for getting rid of some nature of work. They may be happy to have shifted their job to cassettes, but gradually will lose focus if there is too much of listening work involved. Not only will it make the teacher’s job more difficult in finding out the individual weaknesses, but will slowly develop laziness and lack of interest in students.

At elementary level, students are quite restless and immature to understand the seriousness of studies. They may become too comfortable with listening exercises that avoid reading exercise altogether, since the latter involves an extra effort. Abandoning the reading practice will also kill their joy of getting personal attention. In addition to this, buying books on tape will prove to be an expensive affair.

Thus, the above argument does not hold good at all.