Education Letter to the Editor

Essays Offer Best Way to Teach Reading of Texts

April 19, 2011 1 min read

To the Editor:

I read with sadness the article “Teachers Seek Ways to Gauge Rigor of Texts” (Education Week, March 16, 2011).

Years ago, two colleagues, Elliot W. Fenander and Peter H. Reinke, joined me in preparing a text that would introduce rigor to the reading of texts—rigor and also the pleasing reward of discovery in understanding. It was called Understanding the Essay. The essays in it covered literature, including satire and humor, and also subjects on science, environment, justice, and history. The book went into three editions, and then the market dried up: Essays were “no longer fashionable.”

I’m too old, 86, to fight this battle, but I’m compelled to write this plea for a return to the essay as the best and least tedious way of showing young people how to read carefully and perceptively.

Edward O. Shakespeare

Philadelphia, Pa.

A version of this article appeared in the April 20, 2011 edition of Education Week as Essays Offer Best Way to Teach Reading of Texts