Friday, November 30, 2007

Back to the Future

Dr. Kevin Star, a state Librarian Emeritus in California, expounds on NPR that for most of history humans have been illiterate & for most of our history very few people read. Literate culture is a rather new revolution in human history. Therefore he says, what do we do about the declining amount of reading?
A classic education used to nclude the canon, but it has recently gone out of favor. Standardized scores do not show lower performance or success in life but overall students are reading only one-third the books read in the 1930s. Literary reading includes this canon.
The scores show that tweens and beyond read less and less well. This affects comprehension levels so it affects what I do in the classroom every day. Reading has become a middle-class activity. Do we really want an elite class that can read making laws for the less elite class which is illiterate? Sounds very dangerous.
Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, reports that one out of three Americans drop out of high school, yet employers list reading ability as the major problem with new hires. Reading ability directly affects the ability to learn. Yet the ability to learn is a 21st century skill. It is imperative to this generation's success in life that an ability to learn be inculcated. Alvin Toffler is often quoted as saying, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
The mere presence of books directly affects success in school. The new report reviewed in this NPR podcast reports reading on the internet is not equivalent. I must take exception and say it can be. It has to do with flow. If one enters and sustains flow while reading a book or while reading internet information is the same. If only scanning bullet points or reading short IMs, then they have a valid point. But reading of articles on reflective blogs or journals is what one does when reading a print book. Where it is published is not the point.
The point is the kinds of reading material has shifted in American society. Has this same shift happened in other cultures and are these other cultures affected by a shift to a less literate, employable, or successful people?
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2 comments:

Ragon B. Steele said...

Hi Durff, I agree, have you been reading the book called "Flow", It is a great book, basically how to enjoy life to the 10 degree on a scale of 1-10. I will tell you who wrote the book. It is written by a Dr. Chechennichi. Now there is not doubt that I spelled that name wrong. But, it is a book recommended to me buy the State Education Department head for our state of Oklahoma. Have a good day!

.mrsdurff said...

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first proposed the psychological state of flow in 1975. That is when I learned about it and again in undergraduate training. I haven't read his books, but I should. I think his latest work is "Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life" published in 1998. Enjoy that book!