Tim Lauer twittered a fascinating NYTimes article
, “Literacy Debate: Online R U Really Reading?
” about the changing nature of reading that our students are doing. As students do more and more of their reading online, as the article posits, (based on various research studies), how are we adapting our instruction/reading programs/”novel” assignments to account for this?
And do we need to?
The article notes that:
“As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.
But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.”
I find the article fascinating, yet a little troubling and it raises quite a few questions for me. As a reader(not just a librarian) who really values the indepth way that ideas can unfold in book, I wonder what is missing if students aren’t readers of long texts in the same way that generations before them have been? What does it do for us as readers as we spend days or weeks listening to one author unfold a set of ideas or a storyline–as we have time to think about it on the “back burner”?
What does that more leisurely pace, that more in-depth reading, afford us as thinkers? And do we think about online texts in the same way–or are we just patching together a set of unrelated “glimpses” of ideas?
But I also strongly believe in the value of the kind of reading online that students (and many of us now) are doing. We can investigate things we are curious about easily, share ideas with one another across a vast network, follow the serendipity of a thread of information, and create texts of our own.
So my question is, where do these findings leave us? What should we be doing differently?
- Trying to engage students more in printed texts?
- Engaging more with the types of online texts they may already be reading?
- Teaching more evaluative skills?
- Teaching more “connections” between texts–so that whether students are reading online or offline they are focused on how things connect to one another?
- Helping students slow down sometimes in their reading so as to have the “back burner” time to ponder things?
- Creating a mixture of methods for students to engage in all sorts of texts by bringing them into connection with printed texts via online tools?
What do you think?