Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Read Before You Write


Last week we celebrated the National Book Week. To prepare for the week I spent the weekend reading, my friend, Drusilla Modjeska’s new novel: The Mountain, published by Random House Australia. The novel by one of Australian leading writers is the highly recommended Random House Australian book of the month. Its entire setting is in Port Moresby and Collingwood Bay. The story began in the late 960s and works itself to the present time, mostly around characters associated with the UPNG It is a wonderful story written with such fluidity and excellent narrative style that readers will resist the putting down the book. A book with so much psychological drama to physical dramatization of national events in Papua New Guinea seen through the eyes of the main players in the story. 
It is one of the best books on PNG to have come out this year. I will do a full review of the book in a future article.
In the National Book Week I was invited by the PNG Paradise High School to share the afternoon of Wednesday with them. I spoke about the importance of reading books. Most important of all is to spend at least one hour every day for reading only.
The Principal of the Paradise High School informed me that their library is always half empty of books everyday. It is because students borrow books to read everyday. Wow! That is incredible. Well done PNG Paradise High School. I was so excited I read to them some of the poems in my latest collection of poetry Detwan How? Thank you for sharing the National Book with me PNG Paradise High School.
On Friday 10 August 2012 I was the guest of the Jubilee Catholic Secondary school located  at Hohola, National Capital District. This was the closing of the National Book Week. It was a pleasure and honor to be the guest of the school. This is the second time to be a guest of Jubilee Secondary School for the National Book Week. I was pleased  to be a guest of the school again because it is also the school my daughter attends.
The celebration of the National Book Week was fun filled, exciting, and celebratory. The students in paraded in book characters. I spoke about the seven effective techniques exposed in Steven’s Window  last week. I also told them to read to learn the style of writing of great writers like Drusilla Modjeska and Stephen King. It was important for me to mention to them also that spending at least one hour everyday to read will do them so much good and give them reason to celebrate life in its entirety.  People who read have more knowledge and control over their lives and those of others. Without reading many remain ignorant and fooled by the manipulation of others with more knowledge.
The highlight of the closing ceremony was the award of book prizes to students who competed in a writing competition organized for the National Book Week. The winners, including my daughter, Cheryl, were awarded various prizes before we concluded the National Book Week for this year.
The most important advice I gave to students in both schools I was a guest of is the advice on developing reading skills at the high school level. To get to a university students need to do well in their subjects. In order for them to do well they have to read, read, and read more books. Without developing the skills of reading their lives at the university level studies will be one of disappointments.
This advice was given because I have been dealing with students at the University of Papua New Guinea for the last 20 or more years. Students who perform at a higher level in their studies at the university level are those who read, read, and read. It is as simple as that. Reading fills the empty claypot with goodies and wonderful food for thought. Three quarters of the students struggle through their studies because they are not reading or if they are the reading amount is insufficient. No matter how much we stress on the importance of reading our students are staying away from the library and books.
Many students end up failing or scraping through their studies at UPNG with lower grades of Pass (P) or Considered Pass (CP). The simple reason is that scoring that kind of grade signifies the performance level of students in reading and writing. Students failed to read what their lecturers require them to read and also have not taken the initiative to read outside of the recommended readings.
The level of reading and writing is below standard at the University of Papua New Guinea. I bet it is also the same in many of the other universities around the country. Students at the university level are suddenly confronted with the reality that without reading success in one’s studies is never going to improve.
Many courses at the universities are on composition and essay writing. Students have real difficulties in their writing skills that on receiving their papers back from lecturers they are shocked to see the below average score on their papers. Somewhere at the back of the paper there are a lecturer’s comments that the essay lacks sufficient secondary reference and evidence to back up the argument. There are no evidence of library research or theoretical influence. The final mark is based on quality of library research and the ‘proper’ use of language in the construction of the essay. Writing mechanics were not followed. Yeah, and one last advice: avoid quoting from Wikipedia and Encarta. Do the traditional library research. Read more before you write.
I am glad that Mrs. Bernadette Ove, the Principal of Jubilee Catholic Secondary School challenged her school to read more and do more to score high marks in their examinations this year.
I totally agree with her that success at high level of studies begins at the high school level.

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