High school students’ reading and learning impediments are discussed in the form of six typical and counterproductive metaphors, or symptoms. Undoubtedly, all high school educators see these frustrating symptoms daily, and every student has probably exhibited at least one of these ineffective literacy learning behaviors. The first metaphor, “The Trip with No Scenery,” is characterized by a student’s desire to complete her assignment, or get to her destination, without comprehending and learning during the journey.
More learning should be sought during the “trip. ” The “Ping-Pong” reader values efficiency over effectiveness and learning as he strives to quickly complete his assignment. He skims only what he has to so that his assignment questions can be answered quickly, with minimal effort and low comprehension. “Mindless routines” also require little effort and scant thought. This ritualistic “assembly-line mentality” is characterized by the student’s dependence on the teacher to belatedly explain the material.
A fourth metaphor, “Consumers and Extraterrestrials,” is described as students going through the motions of reading without a clear plan of their learning objectives. They “wander aimlessly through print” and “may achieve only fleeting comprehension. ” Another typical symptom that is characterized by heavy dependence on the teacher is “Freeloading and First Down Punting. ” Sadly, these students are conditioned for “learned helplessness,” and they tend to believe that any effort toward learning will be futile.
The final metaphor involves the uneven struggle between students’ “World Brains and School Brains. ” School learning and effort is minimal in comparison to the students’ worldly pursuits and desires. The author argues in a compelling and common-sense manner that underperforming high school students employ these six methods to minimize their effort. Teachers must be aware of these symptoms and should look for ways to combat them.