Hopefully this comes across as organized thought, I've been meaning to node it for a couple of months now..

I've done this. It's not as easy for some as it is for others, that is, for both parties. Some people will never appreciate a good book, some will never take the time to experience losing themselves in beautiful, glorious text. That's okay. However, this is one of the greatest things in the world that so many people don't ever bother to partake in.

And then, there are those who simply can't. Those for which reading is a tedious, confusing chore. I've been an english tutor once in my life, and therefore realize how painstaking reading even a page can be when the words don't make any sense. (Listening to someone who can't read well at all trying to get through even a sentence was sometimes more than I could take, but I did it anyway, with as much patience as I could muster.) I also know that it's possible for nearly anyone to learn how to read, but it requires setting aside feelings of self doubt and stupidity. People who can't read are not stupid, but I was surprised to learn just how stupid it made them feel.

The student I tutored was in grade nine at the time, and he could read at about a grade 5 or 6 level on good days. He'd never read an entire book in all his life. I still wonder about a school system that can let a child who can hardly spell, and reads so poorly, slip through and into grade nine. Regardless, they set up a program for these kids when I was in grade 12, so I did get credit for tutoring too, which was nice but definitely not my motivation.

It should also be noted that I was terrified to actually be in the program because I can be achingly shy around people I don't know, and here I was going to have to teach someone. Scary. I think it helped me in that area too.. I had no choice but to open up and share some of myself with him or he would have never listened to a damn word I said.

I was shocked to learn how many of these grade nine students couldn't read above a grade 3 or 4 level. I guess I shouldn't have been, but I was. Most of them were little deviants, a lot to deal with. At first I was tutoring two kids because my friend couldn't handle the guy she'd been paired with. (Mostly because she's judgemental and actually thought he was stupid, though he really wasn't.. she failed him in that class, incidentally, but got full credit for herself. That's another story, though. I still feel bad that I didn't get the chance to help him..)

I never did get through any of the poetry lessons I'd originally planned before I even met Ian, the student I tutored. I also realize now that he's never going to be a poet, he doesn't need to be, and it doesn't matter that he still can't spell all that well. At least he decided that school wasn't the epitome of all that's evil in the world, and he didn't drop out when he turned 16, either. (He told me numerous times he was going to because school was for loser's, etc., etc.) The problem there was that almost all of his classes required reading, and he couldn't get through them because of that. I helped him with the reading for all of his other courses, too.

He can read almost at his grade level now, and though I pushed him along nicely, he did it on his own. He read "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, the whole thing, and I was so proud of him, but not nearly as proud as he was.. that, was the greatest feeling in the world. Well, aside from the time he came to class and showed me a little poem he'd found, one that "Ponyboy" wrote, and he told me how it was 'so cool' and read it to me. (It should be noted that this kid wore cowboy boots, smoked, hung out with all the "tough" kids and picked fights daily. He wasn't much for emotion, if you will.) We didn't get through all of our spelling lessons, and actually I had to pull him away from the book a lot just to do the other stuff I was required to do, though it seems stupid that I really had to at all.

I bought him chocolates at Christmas, a little present. He was disappointed that it wasn't a book. I laughed, and smiled muchly.. then felt stupid for not getting him any text'y goodness.

It takes a lot sometimes to help anyone learn how to read, it takes undying amounts of patience and compassion. It takes a lot of understanding that I didn't even know I had. That was also the single most rewarding experience in my life, for many reasons.

(The semi-amusing part was that the same year I did that happened to be the year I barely scraped by in biology due to the two weeks I missed when I was sick as f#$*. Wish someone had been helping me with my bio terms at that point.. he-he.)

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