An education specialist is suggesting that technology might be the gateway to getting more boys to learn to read, as she urges teachers to incorporate computer technology to teach reading.
Dr Astra Babb said that at her summer reading camp, young boys were willing to learn to read on devices, despite an initial “negative attitude” to reading.
In remarks at the camp’s recent closing ceremony of Babb’s Reading Clinic, which was held for five weeks at the Barbados Community College (BCC), she said: “As teachers, we have to change the way we instruct the children.
“We have to become computer literate and be able to manipulate the technology so that we can use it as a teaching tool.
“I know that the Government has computers in schools and students have access to them. Perhaps we need to utilize them more.”
Dr Babb admitted that she felt frustrated at times trying to figure out why the boys were performing so far below their grade level even though they were at school regularly.
But tutors soon found the answer to that question as in every class, one tutor after the other complained about the negative attitude to work displayed by a few students, she remarked.
She said: “We realised that our greatest challenge was going to be the students’ genuine inability to remain focused for any period of time unless they were on their phones or tablets.
“They appeared to be addicted to these gadgets which clearly, they were using as learning tools.”
The Reading Clinic provided a space for young men to improve their reading ability without feeling embarrassed, according to Dr Babb.
Campers who are entering secondary school in September received lessons in word attack strategies.
The boys already in high school focused mostly on reading comprehension strategies. Computer technology was used as a tool in all the classes at different intervals.
Dr Babb declared: “The Reading Clinic served also to mentor parents and teachers.
“Miss Debra Hunte remained at the Clinic daily to see how we would interact with her children, especially her 15-year-old son who was experiencing problems with reading comprehension.
“Only yesterday she informed me that she would love us to continue instructing her sons.
“A teacher from Charles F. Brome School and one from Lester Vaughn School spent hours on the telephone with me, imploring me to explain how we got the children to learn to read.”
In another case, a parent approached Dr Babb to ask her what was happening at the camp that caused his son to get up early on mornings and make his way to BCC without having to be prompted to do so.
The education specialist encouraged the graduands who received certificates of participation to continue reading and excelling in their studies. Dr Babb also urged the parents to ensure their charges read at home.
The coordinator also thanked all the sponsors of the clinic which catered to approximately 55 participants this year.
Registrar of the Supreme Court Barbara Cooke-Alleyne, who delivered the feature address, asked the participants and their parents not to stop reading because the camp has ended. Cooke-Alleyne said it was a must that the reading continues if they want to excel in their studies.
The Registrar also urged the parents to cheer loudly for their charges whenever they did something good and to correct them whenever they were headed in the wrong direction.
Cooke-Alleyne said: “As parents, you have to make it happen. It calls for a lot of patience to be a parent.
“Make sure you check their bags for homework if they say there is none. Focus on that reading.
“Keep talking to them. Never let them forget God. Go to Sunday school and take them with them you.
Once they have that foundation of God there is respect.”
The High Court Registrar, a mother of three urged the young men to always put their best foot forward and do what is right. (AH)