When reading becomes self-critiquing


THERE are different approaches to reading. In a country inherently attached to “diploma culture,” reading is commonly known as a subject or a school-related activity. In a community where people label those who read as nerdy or lazy, reading becomes anti-social, counterproductive, or even elitist.

It is quite amusing to hear some parents complaining that their children hate reading books; but eventually get exasperated and question the too-much reading time their children were having after graduating; getting caught reading and convicted: as if books are contrabands and reading is illegal.

Also, reading can become a pastime: a pleasurable and entertaining experience; or a reflective moment: getting into a state of suspending judgment but also judging oneself; or an escape: when the only refuge is with a book: the pages calming the nerves, and the ideas opening the mind to a world where freedom is possible—and free.

However, reading, as the books pile up and the encounter with ideas become varied, can also lead to dangerous grounds. I have somehow understood the rationale why a book can reasonably be banned due to geographic, cultural, or age-related issues.

For ideas are so powerful that sometimes no amount of evidence or facts can convince a person to renounce his previous belief or change his mind and embrace a new philosophy.

This is the reason why education is important; and educational institutions more important, and parents—as educators—most important.

Education here refers to the acquiring of knowledge that will improve the learner in his emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and over-all growth for the improvement of self vis-à-vis with others. To learn with accountability and responsibility. To behave with toughness and sincerity. To live with meaning and purpose.

Educational institutions are the bureaucratic structures built to accommodate the nearly impossible promise of providing quality education to millions and myriad of learners across the board. This is where chaos arises; and all stakeholders—rightly so—have mountainous mud ready to throw for an all-out “educational” discussions and blame-sessions.

And of course, the parents: the primary educators of children and, during the online pandemic classes, the main substitute of children as students. Sad to say, this role has been overtaken by a new partnership: social media platforms and gadgets. The detrimental effect of this new and high-tech parenting will become a generational footnote in the history of social change.

So how can books bring back the best of both worlds? A world where innovation complements tradition? A world where studying a subject does not objectify the learning of a student? A world where reading can still make stillness an active participation—nay a silent revolution? And books can still be considered as personal treasures and not only as academic nomenclatures?


1. Have a library or reading nook at home. The importance of an activity is valued by the space provided for it.

2. Learning also means training. And training is not fundamentally fun. Teachers are not clowns and classes are not noontime shows. Children must learn to appreciate that effort is more important than grades. Refer to the book of Carol Dweck entitled Mindset.

3. Studying is an obligation. It is not a feel-good activity that can be taken for granted.

To clarify, this is not about punishing a student for rewards and praises, nor should there be accommodation leading into mediocrity and laziness. This is why parents are indispensable: to guide and provide a compass to their children. For parents may be there at the start of the journey, but the destination and the fulfillment of a family’s legacy can only be partly fulfilled by the contribution of the family members: passing the baton to the next in line.

IN CONCLUSION, if our propensity to post selfies can also be channeled into a culture of reading books, then what an IF it could have been./PN


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