Skip to main content

Is Books Making Us Stupid?

So, it is Week 4 of 'Rhizomatic Learning' and the focus is whether 'books are making us stupid?'. The questions posed are what the medium of print done to learning? What are the implications of this objective distance? How does it impact what we believe is valid in our society both inside learning and outside of it?



In a recent post, I posed the question, 'What's so Digital about Literacy Anyway?' One of my concerns was that in all of the reading practises that I have been a part of, digital texts are too often frowned upon, a poor distant relative to the exemplary printed text. The argument usually stated to me is that it just isn't the same to read a text on a screen as it is to feel the texture of the paper, to flick the pages. It just isn't organic. It is not how it is done. I couldn't agree more, it is not how it is done, it is different, but just because it is different, does that make mean that it is better or worse?

This brings me to my other concern, that of 'reading'. One of the things that I think is often overlooked in the whole process is the place of the response. Whenever we read we respond, the only question is whether we are willing to engage with that inner voice. So often students are indoctrinated from a young age that reading is what is important, that dedicating regular time to the cause is somehow what makes someone a good reader. I feel that although reading is important, responding is great. This may be as simple as asking a question spurred on by a book or sharing a quick summary with someone else.

What I find sad is that this denial of  digital literacy as a part of 'reading' denies such a powerful opportunity to respond to the text and take action. What I love about reading something an ebook or a blog post is that there are various ways in which I can capture my thinking and then collate it afterwards. Whether this be collecting my highlights and digital notes or using a social bookmarking tool like Diigo to capture annotations and ideas. On top of this, it is so easy to then share these ideas and pieces of information to a blog or a tweet.


Now, I am not saying that books make us stupid, but prioritising one medium over another is stupid. In the end, anything that limits the conversation is nonsensical, for as +Doug Belshaw pointed out in his ebook The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, “I would argue that literacy is inherently a social phenomenon. In fact, I’d argue that, in isolation, an individual cannot be literate at all”

Popular posts from this blog

The Tree - A Metaphor for Learning

I remember in Year Four Ms. Bates teaching us about how trees grew. She explained that they reach to the sun and it is for that reason that they are not always straight. I am sure there is more to it than this, but Ms. Bates story really stuck with me, maybe because of its simplicity, but I think because it completely changed the way that I looked at the world around me. Thinking about it today makes me think that learning might be the same.
I remember when my wife and I moved into our house we planted a series of lilly pillies down the side of property. The thought was that they would provide some screening and a bit more privacy. Clearly we weren't going to let them grow to their potential height of 100 metres as the tag suggested that they could in their natural surroundings, rather we would mould and shape them. As a plant, they are not only hardy, but they grow relatively straight and never lose their foliage.  .  Since planting them, it has been interesting watching them grow. …

It's Been That Way and It Always Will Be

We got talking the other day at school about our NAPLAN reading results. Again, the reading results were below the state average. It was therefore raised that maybe this needed to be a focus and that maybe we should investigate bringing in a coach from outside of the school. So even though we have several great coaches already working within in the area of literacy and we had a focus on reading a couple of years ago, it was believed that the answer was to get a new perspective on the problem. As long as you are seen doing something then that's alright.
Having been a part of the push across the region a few years ago in regards to literacy I posed the question as to whether anyone had carried out any sort of audit of the current practises to identify any areas of improvement. For I was told that to bring about deep and meaningful change takes between three to five years. The comment that I got in response really startled me. I was told that it wasn't anything that we were doing …

Goodbye Blogger ... Hello Domain

For the last few weeks I've been living in two spaces, this space and my new home at www.readwriterespond.com. I've been doing a bit of renovating, touching up a few things, but the time has come to say goodbye. Blogger was a great space in which to start. I loved the simplicity. However, asking to borrow the keys each time kind of had its limits. Instead I've gone and reclaimed my own domain. So if you want to continue the conversation, you can catch me over there. If your interested in setting up your own space, speak with +Jim Groom and the team at www.reclaimhosting.com or check out the original Blog Talk episode ...