Moncton — Emma Terry, a 15-year-old from Moncton, is facing a tough sentence in her Grade 10 class because, like most of her classmates, she simply can’t read very well. The student at Moncton High is now protesting the curriculum saying it’s “just too hard.”
Terry told The Manatee that she would like to explain just how tough she’s finding the class, but literally doesn’t have the vocabulary to do so.
She had been struggling for much of the term, but said one reading assignment in particular pushed her to advocate for easier assignments. She, of course, didn’t use those exact words but instead stated, “These learnings are just too hard. I can’t barely read all the words.”
The class was tasked with reading Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird and writing a report on the similarities between life in New Brunswick compared to that in the iconic novel. Terry explained that she struggled with the text right away, but pushed herself to keep with it. However, she abandoned the novel before making it halfway through the second chapter.
“Emma said she barely understood anything she was reading,” explained English teacher Mr. Murphy. “And the saddest part of the whole thing is that she’s easily one of my brightest students — although ‘bright’ is a pretty loose term with kids nowadays.”
Terry’s protest comes directly on the heels of a CBC report outlining New Brunswick’s poor performance on literacy and mathematics targets during provincial assessments scoring, well-below the Canadian benchmarks. The article cited a local literacy advocate who is baffled by the fact that the parents and government don’t seem concerned about the low scores.
“People aren’t too worried about the scores because they probably can’t read them,” suggested Murphy. “I’m guessing no one really understood that article, either. So, I guess ignorance is bliss?”
Terry attempted to write a letter to her teachers, principal and classmates so everyone would know what students want in terms of education, but no one seemed to understand what she was saying and little support grew for her protest.
“The letter was a bunch of incoherent, poorly written partial phrases that didn’t really amount to any actual thoughts or ideas,” explained the school’s principal, Theresa Davies. “I think she was trying to organize a meeting of some kind but it was too difficult to decipher, so she ended up not getting any support at all.”
Our reporter asked Terry whether she’s discouraged by this lack of support from her teachers and peers, but she just looked puzzled by the question. So, in a last-ditch effort to communicate, we asked Terry to text how she’s feeling; she quickly replied with a sad-face emoticon and a question mark.