SCMP Saturday, September 22, 2001

What hope for students learning from teachers 'too busy' to read?

Last summer I was fortunate enough to have five weeks' holiday. I could imagine no greater pleasure than to lie on the beach and read, read, read! And that is what I did, devouring anything from texts relevant to my teaching of English to novels of pure escapism.
Returning to my post as a NET teacher to begin the new academic year my Chinese colleagues asked how I had spent my long holiday.
When I told them that I had read more than 30 books there was stunned silence. "Weren't you bored?" one English teacher said. "You are joking, aren't you?"
It was obvious by the incredulous look on her face that she could think of nothing worse. It was beyond comprehension that anyone could do something so bizarre.
Another teacher of English later confided to me that she had never read an entire book in her life.
In the discussions that followed it was evident that many teachers of English in Hong Kong regard reading as a frivolous waste of time; many have told me that they are "far too busy to read".
Reading is certainly rarely modelled in the classroom by teachers nor in the home by parents.
Sha Tin