Friday, August 8, 2008

Favourite Sci-Fi books of all time

Yes I'm a maths geek... I am also interested in science fiction... they go together. Reading is a major factor in student performance and parents modelling that reading is pleasurable and informative is the only path to students getting into the habit. Not just in English but especially in maths with the new curricula being much more wordy and problem solving oriented.

With the demise of newspapers in the home, the humble novel is one of the few physical manifestations of the written word. It is still one of the most rewarding as it enagages the mind, imagination and gives a sense of achievement on completion. One of my most memorable and cherished moments in teaching was in my first practicum when a group of yr 7 students read their first complete book (as a group, one paragraph at a time over weeks).

My reading habits have narrowed over the years and I read Sci-fi nearly exclusively. My favourite books of all time (I have some very worn and well loved copies) are:

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: Robert Heinlein
Starship Troopers: Robert Heinlein
Enders Game: Orson Scott Card
Foundation: Isaac Asimov
Dorsai!: Gordon Dickson
Hovercar Racer: Matthew Reilly
Neutron Star: Larry Niven
Voyage of the Space Beagle: AE Van Vogt
Dune: Frank Herbert
Neuromancer: William Gibson(Yes I know it's cyberpunk- but close enough)
Snow Crash: Neal Stephenson(ditto)

Out of Genre:
Magician: Raymond E Feist
Bourne Identity: Robert Ludlum (the movie does not compare with the pace of the book)
Animal Farm: George Orwell
Catch 22: Joseph Heller
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone: JK Rowling
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: CS Lewis

Watching my father read, gave me the impetus to try, and continue trying to read complex and more complex books over time. I've never shared his love of the books he read - they had special meaning to his generation, but I do still read for pleasure, it is my primary method of relaxation.

We have to thank the internet for the resurgence of students writing to each other for pleasure - blogs, instant messaging, facebook/myspace portals (which all have their issues too).

Is it possible to re-engage not only student love of short form writing but their creative centres to design more complex works? JK Rowling showed that the task is not insurmountable.

Instant gratification is fleeting, a feeling of true achievement only comes through effort. Building resilience into our kids means demonstrating that long term effort is worth it.. well past 5 mins.. well past the end of the lesson.. past the term end and year end.. past school.. and hopefully past their own generation.

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