Why being sympathetic doesn’t cut it as a reading teacher
The first rule of effective teaching of reading is: they don’t need our sympathy. Quite the reverse. An attitude of sympathy for ‘poor Johnny’ or ‘poor Jemima’ makes them feel like a lesser person. It cements the messages of failure that they’ve internalised over years at school. Poor Johnny. He just can’t. . . He doesn’t need us to feel sorry for him. He needs us to teach him those basic skills, that no one else has managed.
Secondly, sympathy doesn’t change the situation. It’s a substitute for effective action. It means that we’re prepared to accept the status quo and satisfied with feeling sorry for the student. After all, if. the teaching is effective and the student is learning, there isn’t any reason for us to feel sorry for them.
This is NOT to say that empathy doesn’t matter…
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