Reading for a Better World
Reading for a better life. It's a simple concept, but one that gets lost in all the daily confusion in today's high tech world. How can a society that values instant gratification, making it easy to become button clicking zombies, help us embrace a beautiful once treasured lost art? Are we one click away from a world of illiterate sheep?
Or am I just nuts, and a little bit biased?
I am, I grew up in a time before all the electronics and hub-bub surrounding the instant media outlets.
That's not to say I don't own a smartphone, laptop, and streaming device. Or to say that I do not appreciate the wonderful and diverting way the world has ushered in a new era
But let's do real talk for a minute. Didn't you love sneaking out to the roof with a book and a flashlight when you were 13? Didn't you enjoy classroom popcorn or getting called on to read aloud? Didn't you spend your lunches and recesses and after school time at the Library? Or even some of your during school time (I ditched sometimes to go to the library in Elementary School.) I sure as heck did. I can't even remember where my love of reading began. I can remember several reading experiences that shaped who I became. And I can remember how reading helped me deal with my ever changing world. It began with Elementary School. I wouldn't trade those moments in for all the shiny clickable buttons in the world.
In a 2013 study, Learning on the Go, they established that "Almost one-third of households own one of the devices used for digital learning". Well, that's great! It makes sense if everyone out there was using the devices already then why not? Right? WRONG!
This theory doesn't take into account those whose access is on a shared device. This means one device for an entire household. Yes- they own it, so they are in the counted percent, but do they all use it or is it for one single person alone. In the comment that followed the article, there were two sides to this exact argument. Households on welfare or state help or just low income get the unfair brunt of this situation. How are their kids supposed to keep up with that girl next door? You know the one, waving her iPhone 6+ around snapping pics and videos, looking up answers on her shiny device?
Adding to the ever widening gap between the elite and the everyday man; moves this responsibility further down the pipeline. It encroaches on today's youth with the "tool" of On the Go Learning. Educators have been pushing it more and more, and it's becoming commonplace.
My Daughter who is now 8 and entering the 3rd grade, is lucky. When we moved I got to experience a couple different school styles.
The school she attended was regarded as one of the best in the district. It implemented a program to get tablets into all the kids hands for the year. Sounds like a problem solved right? Wrong! Kinder and 1st grades were excluded from this benefit. And the kids didn't get the kind of one on one focus or learning and nurturing. Despite the lack of honest teaching, there were sales pitches and fundraisers. Money seeking advertisements disguised as school events meant to celebrate the students, every week. It was like attending school at a mall. There was no real focus on what they were learning and how it was being absorbed. Instead, what was more important was how fast they could cover the material. How they tested determined if the teachers got to keep their jobs. My child and I spent 5 years preparing for those super important early years of school. But halfway through her first year she went emotionally/intellectually missing. It took a long time for my little learner to return to her super excited to learn and cooperative self.
We transferred (for a short time during our move) to her cousin's school in LA County. The campus was kinda grungy. The teachers were a motley crew of types. I have to tell you, the first two months of her attendance were beautiful. Her Teacher was friendly and kind and understanding to the age group of the students. (Unlike the year before.) She invited parents to volunteer and have an opinion. She had discussions and communications and meetings. She was so open to the fact that each kid was an individual. (Again glaringly unlike the previous year.) She made me so so reluctant to pull LittleBean out of the school when we finally settled in Riverside County. (For obvious reasons : Cost of living and safety of the area.) I wished we could have taken her with us!
LittleBear finished out the school year at a Local Private Charter, and here's why... I had tasted gold and wasn't going to go back. I encountered several moms when I first moved. Everyone asked where I was enrolling her, and if I had heard of this local Public Charter school. I received this info from so many people I had to check it out and let me say...I got the best of both worlds! The school, though awkwardly situated was everything I liked about both my previous experiences all rolled into one! With the Charter school incorporating both teaching styles, my LittleBean caught up and excelled in no time. And this year just so happens to be the year LB has sprung into reading, and now we can both share a love of reading.
I sit here comfortable in the knowledge that school starts back up in the fall and my LittleBean will be somewhere that cares about her. They care for the kids not just as a student but as a whole person. I wonder what role the electronic world has played in the shift of education from learning to cranking out sheep. It not only is robbing kids of the feel of paper between their fingers, and a well-rounded education. They miss out on the smells of an old library, dusty with the magic that comes from learning and imagination. And I wonder how learning will keep looking in the future.
Let me know what your thoughts are on learning in the electronic age. What age do you think is appropriate for a kid to own a tablet or computer for school. And should it replace old fashion books. And as always thanks for reading!