14Offering Choice

Although Steve works as a school administrator at this stage in his career, the reason that he got into the education racket in the first place was because of his love of literature, writing, and teaching great books of all shapes and sizes to young people.

When he himself was young, younger than the students he has taught, though, it took him a while to fall in love with the kind of reading he was asked to do in school. Partially, this delay was caused by the fact that the experience of reading in school was asymmetric to his experience of reading outside of school.

In school, he was asked to read books that his teachers selected and split up into digestible chunks, regardless of whether or not these digestible chunks ended in the middle of the action. He was then told, under no uncertain terms, to read one chunk at a time, whether he was interested or not, a fast reader or a slow reader, and then was judged on his ability to recall information – sometimes picayune details – about those readings.

Outside of school, he read in a different way; he read, as if under a spell, the books that spoke to him. After browsing in his town's library and finding – often by chance – books like Shel Silverstein's poems and Poe's short stories and the Hardy Boys, he read. And read. He read in big, unbroken, unbalanced swaths of time. He smuggled the books he loved into restaurants and churches, annihilating entire afternoons, not so much devouring as himself being devoured. ...

Get Make Yourself Clear now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.