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AbstractAlex Kendall is Associate Dean for Education at the University of Wolverhampton. Whilst this role involves her in a broad range of educational work, her focus as a teacher educator and research lies in the areas of initial teacher education and continuing professional development programmes for adult literacy specialists. Background In 2002 The Times Higher Education supplement ran a report which challenged and reoriented my thinking about reading and readers and had a profound impact on the theorising I then was immersed in as part of the PhD research process. The report sought to re-present a selection of the findings from a reading habits survey I had (tentatively) presented to the British Educational Research conference a few weeks previously. The report entitled 'Books lose out to tabloids' read, "Half of the FE students taking English courses in a deprived part of the Midlands rarely or never read for pleasure, according to a survey of students aged sixteen to nineteen at seven colleges in the Black Country. Their most popular reading matter is tabloid newspapers and magazines. Four out of five of the 340 students surveyed were studying for A-levels and three-quarters were female, yet 15 per cent said they never read for pleasure and 34 per cent did not do so regularly. The rest read for pleasure at least once or twice a week but only 3 per cent did so every day. Most preferred to socialise and watch TV. The findings were presented to last week's British Educational Research Association conference by Alex Kendall of the University of Wolverhampton. They supported views of college teachers who told her many A-level students had "poor reading skills and weak vocabulary" and few read beyond their coursework." (Passmore, 2002: 32) Some months later the press office at my University was contacted by a BBC Radio researcher who had come across the BERA abstract via the TES article and wanted to invite me to contribute to a late night BBC radio discussion programme addressed to the BBC' Big Read' campaign. The "students don't read novels" quote in the TES article had caught the researcher's eye and I was invited to share my knowledge about the 'illiteracy’ of young people and also to identify a high consuming or idiosyncratic reader who might also join the discussion. The research seemed 'instinctively’ to be making a connection between students choices about not to read novels and the degree to which they were or weren't 'literate'. And indeed it was not implied that the 'interesting' reader might be found amongst the student participants.
CitationResearch and Practice in Adult Literacy (RaPAL), 62: 36-42.
JournalRaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacy) Journal
DescriptionA scanned copy of this article is attached to this record, with the kind permission of the copyright holders, RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacy). Back issues of RaPAL Journal are available from Avantibooks. Membership of Research and Practice in Adult Literacy (RaPAL) includes a subscription to the RaPAL journal.