“I don’t read.” That’s what he said as I sat across from him waiting for the next question.Books

I was interviewing for a teaching job and the interviewer had asked me, “What is the greatest gift you’ve been given?” I admit, I had considered saying that Smartwool socks were it. I love Smartwool socks. But I went with what seemed like the better, more honest answer.

“I love to read. Learning to read is the greatest gift I’ve been given. My mom worked hard to make sure that I would be able to interact with a world where much of what we need to know is written.” That was my answer.

“I don’t read” is all he said. And really, it was that moment when I knew the interview was over. I don’t know that he felt that way, he kept asking questions. I really don’t remember much about the rest of the experience. I just couldn’t figure out how a vice-principal could casually state that he doesn’t read. The shocker was that it didn’t seem like a problem to him. In a way, I ended up feeling like the weirdo in the room.

He said he doesn’t read and I have to believe that it’s not a matter of his ability, but more a matter of his attitude or desire for reading. Either way, how can an educator NOT READ? How can a citizen in a powerful country expect to be successful without reading? How can someone responsible for ensuring the success of children NOT READ?

This moment in time stood out for me. Not because I didn’t get the job. I probably didn’t really want that job. I ended up working in a school where the principal read, the staff read, and students were challenged to read. I immersed my classes in words. Some of those students read even more than I. At least one of them has degrees more advanced than mine (not that it would be hard to get degrees more advanced than mine, but it would require a bit of reading). I think I ended up where I was supposed to be.

Things have come full circle. I’m now the interviewer and the questions I ask are, “What’s the last book you read?” and “What are you planning on reading next?” You can tell a lot about a person by what they read, or not, as the case may be.

What are you reading?

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