Saturday, June 7, 2014

Reading . . . not


There's something about the concentration and focus engaged when a reader is 'lost' in the pages of a book that can't be easily duplicated.  Unless a fire alarm goes off, events nearby  can swirl about unnoticed.   I have a theory--not easily proved--that many skills and abilities are developed and nurtured in the process of reading.   The closest thing I can compare it to is practising and playing an instrument. I believe that mental pathways, neurological connections and basic life skills are positively affected and improved through these practises.

But attributing these qualities to reading makes it sound like something you do because it is good for you in the way that taking a spoonful of pungent cod liver oil used to be when administered to children.   This post repeats what has been stated previously:   Children and teens are reading less and with decreased proficiency.   The usual suspects--video games, texting and television--are cited as the causes in the article.   Some of the comments were especially interesting though and gave me pause:

"I have no problem with this. It means less competition for my kids. Down the road, when my kids are running successful businesses, the kids who did not read will be saying to them. "Do you want fries with that?" Actually, that probably won't happen because we do not go to McDonalds, but I think you get the picture."

"I taught college from 2007-2013. In most cases, students were not doing the reading (composition and literature classes). Often, I'd have to read the chapter or story to them in class. I had students confide to me that they hated to read. I would say, "Well, literature is not for everyone; there are other fields." They would interrupt: "No you don't understand. I don't like to read anything.  I bit my lip but wanted to say, "Whose tuition money are you wasting?"

"Reading requires effort and imagination. In today's "if it's not done in 3.5 seconds, it's stupid" world, the great majority of people, not just children, don't have the attention span to read a paragraph, let alone a book. When you're immersed in the 140-character world of Twitter and text messages, Dickens is largely incomprehensible. That's an extreme example, but you get the point."

What is the solution?

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