Advocacy for 2018: Fostering a culture of reading in the Philippines is created by Shealea of That Bookshelf Bitch. Essentially, Augvocacy aspires to bring together like-minded people in actively forwarding a particular advocacy. Held annually on the month of August, this project aims to forward a different, yet nonetheless important, agenda each year. This event is participated by Filipino readers, bloggers, and authors, and uses the hashtag #Augvocacy2018
As a college instructor and one of the Augvocates in #Augvocacy2018, I decided to focus my topic on how I used my profession to influence students and other to engage in reading. By others, I am referring to my colleagues whom I happen to somehow “influence”.
I have observed, as a teacher, that most of my students are not into reading. Some of them prefers watching movies or tv series than reading a book, or even short stories. Most of them do not have any interest in reading and struggles when I give them reading materials (i.e. journal articles and academic books), and at some point it disappoint me.
So, I was inspired with my former professor in college whom she integrates reading (nonfiction) books in teaching. I remembered when she asked us to look for a nonfiction book that focuses on mental illness. Our tasked was to read and give diagnosis. With this inspiration, I decided to adopt her idea, made a little modifications and integrate reading (fiction) books in teaching Abnormal Psychology.
I have been doing this integration since 2013 when I first started teaching. Yearly, it gives me different reactions from my students. In my class, I ask my students to read a novel (fiction, in any genre) focusing on mental illness and/or characters that has mental illness and they need to submit a reaction paper and diagnosis the characters with justification (of diagnosis).
Why fiction? Well, some people find nonfiction a bit boring, mostly for those who has less interest in reading. And as a fiction lover, there is always surprising about it. Unexpectedly, some of my students challenge theirselves and choose fantasy as a genre. And it is really hard to diagnose characters in there because you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. But my students always did a good job in it. At same time, it is very challenging because some of them are not into reading that I always receive same reactions like “Ma’am iba na lang huwag na po magbasa.” (Ma’am, let have different project that does not involve reading), it always broke my heart. But I couldn’t be swayed because they need to learn to love reading because it will definitely help them in the future. Anyway, it is pretty interesting to read my students’ reactions especially when they invested their feelings towards the books. That some of them remarkably fell in love in reading. It flutters my heart because every time they ask book recommendations and sometimes we discuss some books that we read, and it’s really fun.
Likewise, somehow I “influenced” others—my colleagues—into reading. Mostly, I had try swaying my colleagues of my “in group” to read and there are different reactions. Positive reaction such as little interest in reading but for me, that’s better than none interest. So, some of them prefers contemporary and some prefers nonfiction. The most challenging is on how I’ll influence others especially those who says “Isang page pa lang ako inaantok na ako.” (It’s only page one and I’m already sleepy) because that only means they have no interest at all.
One time, my colleague asked for book recommendations. Maybe he got annoyed of me telling him to read books because it’ll help him write his thesis in the future. So, I ask him of his interest and he said he wants something extraordinary and he’s into scifi. I gave him blurbs of different books and let him choose. After he pick up a book, I lend him my copy and leave him alone. One day, he approached me because he’d like to discuss some things about the book. At that time, I am overjoyed because I didn’t expect that. I thought that he’ll just get the book and let it sit in his home, like what my other colleagues did. And from that, he grew love in reading. He now asks for other book recommendations and reads in his free time.
Another story is when I get one of my colleagues involved into book community. At first, we just exchanged and discuss books for fun reading, and attend book fairs. I have this blissful feeling as she now attends Philippine Readers and Writers Festivals because I could see that she really loves and enjoys attending similar events. Further, she is now part of the Filipino book community on Twitter and I think that means really a lot!
Similarly, I have a colleague who is a bookworm like me. We always discuss about the books we read. It’s always fascinating how we have different feelings and reactions towards the book.
All of us has come from different backgrounds and many of us did not established reading habits when we’re a child. Rehabilitation of our libraries would make a good impact in our society. If we change our library system to 70% academic books and 30% novels, this may help students access books without spending too much money. Moreover, maybe if we could start encouraging children (as early as 5 years old) in pleasure reading, we could change the culture of reading in the Philippines. It will definitely take time and commitment but in time, we will change the culture of reading that we have.
P.S. Establishing a book club at school is dream. But we’ll see in the future what will happen.
As part of #AUGVOCACY2018, Shealea is hosting a giveaway! You could win a paperback copy of The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly.