Gemma Rodríguez, general secretary of PEN Català and coordinator of the European project Engage! was in charge of carrying out this study group in which they discussed reading issues.
The meeting was very exciting for all the teachers as they talked about their perspectives together and came to the following conclusions:
1. About the students’ reading habits -teachers believe that these habits depend on the family and the socio-economic context. Many students don’t read because they don’t see their parents reading at home.
2. In the schools with a low percentage of reading students, there is usually a correlation between readers and students with good academic grades. In those with a better percentage of reading students, there is a more diverse academic level.
3. Pupils tend to stop reading at the age of fifteen or sixteen. This has to do with the fact that they enter full adolescence, start a more intense social life and enjoy other interests. In addition to this, they admit that other factors may exist that haven’t been identified yet.
4. The reading habit of the students changes in secondary school due to the influence of mobile phones. They start spending a lot of time on them and consequently they stop dedicating time to other interests, including reading.
5. Platforms like Wattpad are popular among adolescents, it’s here they get encouragment with reading and writing. Perhaps it is not literature in terms of academia, but it does keep them reading and writing.
6. The teachers view the initiative to promote reading that some institutes develop positively, which consists of a daily reading of 15/20 minutes. But they admit that the success of it depends on the teacher being a regular reader, and a teacher who reads to the students too.
7. Some teachers believe that they should give students more freedom when deciding what to read. However, there are others that believe that this complicates evaluation, because it is difficult for the teacher to read and compare all the books they choose. In addition, they miss the opportunity to share the same reading in a group, which is a rather difficult experience to repeat if the students are reading a range of books.
8. Compulsory reading ensures that some students will read at least one book in their lifetime. However, this is not the way to become a great reader. Some teachers believe that, sometimes, compulsory reading could turn reading into a negative experience that may discourage the habit of reading.
For PEN Català this first collaboration with the IES Viladomat has been rather interesting as it marks the beginning of future collaborations between our institution and education centres, either from the Engage Project! our organisation leads, or from collaborations with different refugee, persecuted or exiled writers who attend these centres to show their work and the current reality back in their countries to the students.