Reading is scheduled every day at Wadhurst because helps build creativity and agility in thought explains English Coordinator Paul Stewart.
For fifteen minutes every day, the typical sounds of activity that echo across the Wadhurst deck are suddenly quiet. Across the campus, every student is engaged in a simple yet crucial activity - reading.
The Wadhurst reading programme requires each student to read from a novel or article every day, in silence. “It is terrific that we have made reading the jewel in the crown of the School day,” says Mr Paul Stewart, English Co-ordinator at Wadhurst. “This allocation of time is telling them that reading is important. In fact, it’s paramount.”
Why would other subjects give up fifteen minutes each day to reading? Mr Stewart says there are practical benefits alongside a broader goal. “The reading period is a time when boys can move from the, often hectic, activity of lunchtime into a state that encourages sustained focus and therefore readies them for their afternoon study.”
Mr Stewart says reading also brings early adolescent boys into contact with something that is still a significant part of their development – the story. “Stories help people in general, but boys specifically, to make sense of the world,” Mr Stewart explains. “Stories allow them to embark on a voyage and to see themselves reflected in the archetypical hero’s journey.”
“These boys want to be greater than they are. They hope to be noble and altruistic,” Mr Stewart adds. “Reading gives them both the structure and the vehicle they need to realise those dreams.”
Conceding that books now have more competition than ever from immersive digital media, Mr Stewart emphasises that reading must continue to compete for attention because of its ability to empower students.
“What I hear from today’s businesses is that they need innovators,” Mr Stewart explains. “They need people who can provide things people don’t even realise they require and solutions to problems that aren’t even recognised. It’s a student’s creativity and ability to be agile in thought that will distinguish them. We use that agility when reading because we’re in a constant state of hypothesis, asking what will happen next. It’s the unknown that keeps us coming back to a book.”
“I often say to the boys that there is no more intimate relationship than the one between you and a book,” Mr Stewart adds. “There’s a secret quality to the transaction that is really precious. And if nothing else, it’s a small part of their day when it’s okay to be quiet, to reflect and to dream.”