Promoting a Love for Reading

N.B. This article was originally published in UPIU on September 25. Click here to view the original post.

During a critique session, the evaluator said that the article had no problems with grammar and syntax but could be further improved by using subheads to break different parts of the story. The class noted that the article would be better if the author interviewed other sources. The evaluator said that the direct quote used as lead was not that enlightening but was in-line with the theme of the story. The class professor noted that the article was neutral and not biased.

UPIU mentor Tim Maier said that the article was a good start on a profile of a retired teacher. However, the story could be further improved by interviews from other sources. He also noted that it is better to avoid starting a story with a direct quote.

Although some parts of the article have been revised for this site, there are still no added information from other sources. The author tried to interview other sources but unfortunately, none of them were available as of the time this article was posted on this site. However, the author will see to it that necessary changes be made once she is able to get interviews from her sources.

Make every Filipino child a reader.

To some, these words might mean a seemingly impossible task. But to Patria Cordero, these words serve as a mission and service to her country and her people.

Cordero is a retired Filipina English professor who has dedicated her life to developing a “love for reading” among Filipino children and training Filipino teachers across the Philippines. As a child, she was fascinated by her father’s love for newspapers, books, and literature. Her father wanted her to be a doctor but her early experiences with reading books fueled her determination to be a reading and language teacher.

“I started to love books, reading, and interacting with other people based on the materials I read,” she said. “I just became addicted to it.”

Cordero believes that it is important for every child to appreciate reading as an “essential fact of life.” She says that reading and good vocabulary and language skills are fundamental tools that make it easier for students to go through different subjects in school and allow them to develop critical thinking skills.

“The early objective would be first to equip students with vocabulary and language skills and then give them reading comprehension exercises so that given a variety of reading materials, they can get meaning and put meaning into the written page,” she said.

Poverty and literacy in the country

As a former director and past-president of the Reading Association of the Philippines, Cordero stresses that there is a need to realize the importance of improving the status of literacy in the overall progress of the country.

Her past positions with the organization gave her the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the country and made her see the problems faced by public schools in remote and far-flung areas in addressing the need to promote a “culture of reading.”

She said that poverty remains to be one of the greatest difficulties. She emphasized that limited reading materials and limited exposure to reading activities cause students to “struggle with their language and with their understanding of the printed page.”

“In some of the provinces I’ve visited, the ratio is one book to three or four children,” she said.

She said that there are attempts made by the Department of Education to provide books but she thinks that these are still insufficient as teachers continue to clamor for more books to be used in their respective classrooms.

“The ones that we really need to help are those in the poverty line,” she said. “We have to give full assistance in terms of materials and added experiences to allow the students to appreciate reading.”

Rigid training for teachers

Cordero’s desire to share her reading experiences and to persuade others to read led her to conduct seminar workshops to teachers across the country and to organize conventions aimed at improving reading programs and teaching procedures and techniques.

She emphasized the need for adequate and rigid training for reading teachers. She said that for teachers to motivate students to read, they should have the know-how of how reading can best be done and implemented in the classroom.

“Teachers should be at home with the subject and should have the disposition to give creative questions and activities so that students will not think of reading only as a mental activity, but something that is fun doing and something that will allow them to understand their society,” she said.

She added that principals, supervisors, and heads of schools should monitor what the teacher does in the classroom so that they will be able to provide them with new techniques and new approaches to reading.

She also said that the government should continue to implement policies and assist teachers in their needs. “They have to give support to the teachers so that even without major conventions, they get out of their way to improve themselves and be readers themselves,” she said.

Promoting Reading in different communities

Her busy schedules did not stop her from being a reader advocate in her own community. She was known for organizing a project called Story Telling Time, where-in she and a ladies circle committee, together with books provided by the municipal government, gave drama teaching and reading sessions for children.

“On special occasions like Halloween, the beginning of the school year, during summer, and in December, we give reading activities for children to keep them busy,” she said. “We offer them something they will enjoy.”

She was also known for conducting special reading sessions in depressed areas where she invited children who were not able to go to formal school.

“They think that it’s just singing, or acting, or reciting nursery rhymes but actually it is a preparation for them to love reading,” she said.

Good feedback from her students gives her hope for the future and confidence in the youth. She says that when the kids come back for the next sessions, they are more articulate and they would volunteer to do the action rhymes and recite poems for newcomers.

“That’s a way of making them show how they used their experience with us and how it is important for them to keep on reading,” she said.

Cordero said that she likes to end her seminars by saying: “Teaching is an honor, a joy, and a privilege. The teacher can do nothing but give her very best.” With her contributions to literacy and reading in the Philippines, she has proved herself as a pioneer reading teacher of the country.

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