Five Reasons Teachers Should Take Time out with a Book

Reading

The summer holidays! Time to sit back, relax, and devote time to yourself. These are the six weeks when you can catch up on that box set, paint the spare room, top up your tan (weather permitting), tackle that pile of books you’ve been longing to read…

Except it shouldn’t be. The summer holidays shouldn’t be the only time of the year that we teachers get to lose ourselves in a good book. Reading isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. All too often, we put aside books as “indulgences” that we only turn to when we’ve done our marking, planning, teaching, admin, data… the list is endless.

Here’s five good reasons why we shouldn’t leave our books languishing on the shelf until the summer holidays:

Books Open up New Worlds

As teachers, we need to be open to new places and new experiences. We are role models for our students. We can’t travel the world (Ofsted would probably take a dim view of CPD that involved backpacking for six months) but we can experience new places through literature. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner taught me about Afghanistan; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun opened my eyes to the Biafran War. And once we have these experiences, we can share them with our students, so their world is not just limited to the four walls of our classroom.

Books Stretch Your Imagination

Just reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere will give you a taste of how far the human imagination can go. As Einstein said, “to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination”. Only by stretching our own imagination can we encourage students to test the limits of their own minds.

Books Are a Window into History

Our history shapes us; by understanding what has gone before, we understand better what is happening now. Books like Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall make history come alive, and we can share that passion and knowledge with our students.

Books Offer a New Angle on Problems

I’ve never considered myself a scientist but reading Andy Weir’s The Martian had me fascinated by chemical reactions and physics. Guillermo Martinez’s The Oxford Murders got me hooked on mathematical theorems in a way GCSE Maths never could. By approaching fact through fiction, we can learn new things – and that can only benefit our students.

Books Are a Lifeline

A study carried out by neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis discovered that reading can reduce stress levels by 68%. So, rather than carry our stress into the classroom, we should pick up a copy of Marian Keyes’ Watermelon or Lee Child’s The Midnight Line – whatever it takes to help us decompress. After all, as a teacher, we’re doing one of the most stressful jobs there is!

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