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Reading Time Is Quiet Time in Schools

Posted May. 10, 2006 02:59,   


It is 9:00 a.m. Tuesday at Dongil Elementary School in Suseong 2-ga, Suseong-gu, Daegu. The bell just rang, but the school is silent.

All 840 students are reading in the 27 classrooms. The principal and the 33 teachers are doing the same.

The “10-Minute Morning Reading” campaign that was started in late April changed the atmosphere of the mornings at school. The homeroom teacher no longer has to slap the desk with his ruler, telling the students to be quiet.

Principal Nam Gak-hyun (aged 62) said, “Making a habit of reading and reflecting is more important for students than reading many books. The silence and concentration that have been long gone in schools have now returned.”

Kang Soon-ok (aged 38, Suseong4-ga resident), the parent of third grader Han Ji-yoon, said, “Since the campaign started, my daughter often reads with her kindergartener sister. The campaign initiated the habit for her.”

The morning reading campaign is slowly catching on in elementary, middle and high schools in the Daegu region. Almost all 430,000 students and 20,000 faculty members from 410 schools take to the books everyday.

Just a year ago, mornings at school were always chaotic. Only high school students making final preparations for the College Scholastic Ability Test were the exception.

Supervisors of Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education discussed ways to help teenagers develop reading and thinking skills. It was during their discussions when the book “10 Minutes of Morning Reading Make Miracles” was published, and they put the idea into action.

At first everyone was skeptical. Some teachers shook their heads and said, “What difference will 10 minutes of reading make? This is just for show.”

Things changed as time went by. Students who had difficulties concentrating or reading learned to concentrate during class with the help of the 10-minute reading practice.

The 10-minute strategy that encourages students to read paid off, and many schools followed suit.

What does the 10-minute reading amount to? Students read an average of 20 pages during this time. They can read two books in one month, and in a year read 20 books, which add up to 6,000 pages.

By the time an elementary school student graduates high school, he or she will have read 240 books in 36,000 minutes.

This month, 28,000 kindergarteners in 282 kindergartens in the Daegu area started the exercise.

Superintendent Shin Sang-cheol of Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education said, “If reading becomes routine, it will help students with the curriculum and root out misdemeanors such as school violence.”

Kwon-Hyo Lee boriam@donga.com