The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
—- Mark Van Doren
I learned to read when I was 4. To me, it was one of my first humble, yet unparalleled intellectual accomplishments as a thinking being. And so, it has to be my mother’s great achievement, too. She was my first favorite reading teacher.
I owe one of my heaviest debts to my mom. The glory of her admirable diligence as a mother is something I have realized since I was a kid. Although I may have not fully understood yet everything then, but I’ve felt that she had the best intentions for us. Now, as I look back on my history as a learner and reader, I can’t help but smile (and giggle) about those beginning chapters of my school life where my mom took the lead character. =)
These are one of the most vivid childhood memories I have. She made sure that I could read and write well even before my school age to keep me from being left behind in the class of readers in kindergarten. She didn’t want me to experience such of kuya’s (older brother) first weeks in pre-school where he started a little discouraged because his classmates were already very good readers while he was just beginning to decode letters. As a mother who’d like to bring out the best learning potentials her children had, she also had devoutly taught my kuya until he finally became a reader. So before I had my first school bag with Jumbo pencils, brittle crayons, colorful umbrella, cute raincoats and all that pre-school jazz, I’ve already finished reading all the kindergarten books that my kuya used. I think Ii even had them even before I knew there were good fairytales and children’s books with colorful pictures on glossy pages.
Until now, my mom still remembers some of the titles of those thin and big lettered- books: “Come, Work and Play”, “A Happy Family”, “Learn to read”, “Gawin Natin”, and she’d laugh with a touch of reminiscence. She would even recite some lines from them. “Come, mother, come! Come, Ben! Come, Len! See, mother, see! See, Puti, run!” After my mom laughs a lot, I would continue the story telling of my funny childhood episodes.
After being able to decode the alphabet and understand words, reading practice began as a routine to me. As if a regular tutorial session, mom would usually set our siesta and onwards as our reading time. It’s sweetly annoying and hilarious to recall how my mom would chase me with a long and straight twig from the tall tree at the yard which is called ”Guyod” in our town, when I’d refuse to sit with her in our reading sessions in the kitchen or in our hammock. Also, I can never forget that time when she brought me with her to dry harvested “palay” (rice). With a huge hat, she was under the heat of the sun supervising some “Manoys” (Manong in Bikol, used to address a man older than you) at work, I had myself meekly seated under a shade with some books and orange juice she had brought for me to ease the boredom of waiting, probably. From my perspective now, I find it funny sometimes to question my submissiveness to my mom then. ^_^ When I went to school formally, I can say that she had some good reaps out of her labor sowed for me.
I really felt the advantage of having developed an early reading skill because it has also led me to create an early enthusiasm and value for studying and doing well. My mother also maintained that interest I had developed as she gave us more children’s reading materials than toys. I don’t actually recall having many toys like my classmates and playmates had. She would buy things that our future school days could bank on like MacMillan children’s dictionary, the thick and heavy Webster’s, children’s encyclopedia and children’s almanac. Indeed, they have been really useful. However, I wish my mom had exposed me, too, to some other interesting youth’s narrative literature aside from the very common children’s stories.
Since my mom also enjoys reading, especially magazines, I also value her not just as my teacher but as a big and positive influence on my passion to read. From then on, I began reading for pleasure not just for academic purposes. My mom recalls that whenever I was brought to my pediatrician, she would find me reading adult’s magazines in the clinic while other kids were playing around. I also got from her my habit of bringing something to read anywhere I go, as much as possible. So, I, too, can’t go to a place without something to read as much as possible. It’s like an instant boredom pill. She has passed on to me her interest in reading, now I’m trying to share it.
And now, when I see my working table with a row of some favorite books on it, my heart sighs with smiles as if they are treasures to keep before my eyes. I see the reader that I was and the reader that I am. It’s true indeed that the books we read mirror quite a definition of who we are and how old we are. Reading has taken me higher, I can say. I’ve learned to read not just with pleasure but with love. A good reading stops my time. It has enlarged the dreams that I have. It has given me vicarious experiences and lessons that I didn’t get from school. It made me build a personal relationship with good minds, the author of the readings. It has greatly influenced my opinions and has helped me shape my character. It has also inspired me to write as well. It has made me grown a happier, more mature and wiser person.
However, I believe, in all situations, the things you do for love would have borders and impediments for you to fight for them. Having a huge heart for reading does not mean that I have read a number of books greater than your reading lists or that I have always won over drowse while reading. I have so many unread books. I have this tendency to buy books with the grandest plan to read them but they would just be found sometimes clamoring for a sit down whenever busyness engulfs my time. Stopping by BookSale and Books for Less is such an amusing temptation. Time limits me,too, especially now that I’m working and studying at the same time. Also, not all readings thrill me. I prefer to read with Pleasure rather than with Pressure that you do it for compliance like the ones in school often times, (you know what I mean!) But I’ve also come to realize that this is the adventurous part of this passion. Reading has made me explore unceasingly the wisdom within our reach that God gave mankind when we start to unravel the mystery in every leaf.
I see the reader that I was and the reader that I am. When I was a kid, I read for survival. I was taught to read to be equipped with fundamental readiness. And now, it has transcended my mom’s basic intentions. It has affected my life and it has made me affect others too. There is a generation gap between the first books I read when I was a kid and the books that I read now as a 24 year-old young teacher. Years may have been counted, yet, the same things powerfully bind and embrace them—the same pleasure, wisdom and grasp of life that I get in this little soul experience I would like everyone to have.
Before I thank God for the brilliant minds I’ve met on pages, I have to thank Him first for my unforgettable first Reading teacher—my one and only favorite SHEro and wonder mom!:-)
( Written for a seat work in one of my classes. Showed to my mom on her 61st birthday^_^ 2011)
Images: 1. www.ugraphic.net