This is going to be a rant.
Recently I was asked to sit on the School Advisory Committee for Jefferson Middle School. We discussed new strategies for teaching students better writing and language skills. It is rather apparent that our young people don’t read like they used to. I’m not even sure if they read less than they used to but they certainly read differently. This may be due to twitter feeds, paragraph long articles and blogs and communicating solely through thumb jitterations. (Yes, I made up a word. Shakespeare did it all the time.)
Everything has become pithy.
Attention spans are shorter. Many boys are on some form of medication due to a lack of concentration. Yet, I think the answer is very simple. Read books.
Now, our culture is clearly one based on entertainment. We live in a screen infested landscape where every pocket has access to the world. Why do we like looking at screens so much? Even our books are becoming screens. This is often the reason when I go to a sports bar or something like it I often joke by asking to sit somewhere away from any televisions. I always get a confused stare.
Now, this isn’t a rant against screens, computers or television. You are after all reading this on a screen, that I typed on a screen. But I think our scatterbrained society could use a collective sabbatical. Perhaps we could create a new holiday where we all unplug from our phones and turn off the noise, grab a good book and go to a park.
I have found that most people I know (especially students) don’t read many books, at least outside of assigned reading. George R.R. Martin once wrote. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.”
If you claim to not like reading, it is probably because you have not found something that you enjoy. And just because you haven’t found it yet does not mean that the whole thing is unworthy of your time. I have often forced myself to read things that I thought were a waste of brain cell capacity, but the focus and resolve required to do something you dislike in order to better yourself is one sadly missing from many people and I assuredly could use more of that character trait myself.