Don’t you mean is long always smarter and better than short? That is what I might have said before. Carlin Romano describes in “Will the Book Survive” the challenges involved in getting college students to read books. I pulled the above question from the paragraph below.
Destructive cultural trends lurk behind the decline of readerly ambition and student stamina. One is the expanding cultural bias in all writerly media toward clipped, hit-friendly brevity—no longer the soul of wit, but metric-driven pith in lieu of wit. Everywhere they turn, but particularly in mainstream, sophisticated venues—where middle-aged fogies desperately seek to stay ahead of the tech curve—young people hear, through the apotheosis of tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, and sound bites as the core of communication, that short is always smarter and better than long, even though most everyone knows it’s usually dumber and worse.
I am not sure about his next point–that people don’t want to read because they can’t interact with the author. Of course today, one trick of publishers to help authors succeed is to set up a blog in order to promote their books. Hmmm, maybe he has a point.
Another cultural trend propelling the possible death of the whole book as assigned reading is the pressurized hawking of interactivity, brought to us by the same media panderers to limited attention spans. It’s no longer acceptable for A to listen to B for more than a few minutes before A gets his or her right to respond.
Next, Romano sounds like Nicholas Carr from The Shallows when he refers to Robert Darnton’s The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future (PublicAffairs, 2009):
Darnton notices what many other professors also see in young people: “A generation ‘born digital’ is ‘always on,’ conversing everywhere on cellphones, tapping out instant messages, and networking in actual or virtual realities. The younger people you pass on the street or sit next to on a bus are simultaneously there and not there. They shake their shoulders and tap their feet to music audible only to them inside the cocoon of their digital systems. They seem to be wired differently from their elders, whose orientation to machines comes from another zone of the unconscious.”
Maybe he is hard on the youth of today but perhaps you, like myself, have seen the following scene:
Many college-age sorts study their phones, put them away to try to focus on something else—the passing scenery outside the Amtrak train, a magazine, the old-fashioned book they’ve brought along—then yank the phones back out three or four minutes later and start tapping away again. Reading a book, however, requires concentration, endurance, the ability to disconnect from other connections. You have to be there rather than not there. Hyperwired young people may be making it to age 17 without acquiring that ability, let alone losing it.
Another worthwhile read on the subject is a post on The Art of Slow Reading by Patrick Kingsley.
Where have all the young men gone? With 60% of student populations now being women, we may have a problem. Check out this article by Albert Mohler.
Biblical manhood requires that young men grow up, assume adult responsibilities, and prepare for leadership and service in the home, in the church, and in the larger society.
This much is clear — if this trend is not reversed, the college campus will not be the only place these young men are found missing.
“Fat dumb and happy” may be a description of what will result if we continue the staus quo in our university education in America according to this piece on the problem of University Education via Felix Salmon.
The following article on Universities and Economic Growth by Philip Greenspun stimulated my thinking because it reveals yet again the pointlessness of an over-reliance on lecture as a form of education. As opposed to adult dialogue education! Greenspun writes,
Pedagogy researchers have found that people stop paying attention after about 20 minutes. That’s as long as a lecture should be at a university. After 20 minutes, the students can break up into small groups to solve problems, with the teacher wandering around the room assisting groups as necessary
Pity the poor prof for whom Greenspun described what actually happened in the first 20 min of class. He provides a scathing review for how ineffective are so many things about our university level education and warns that this will have a future negative consequences for our society and economy. He offers two Simple Changes: “Stop grading your own students” and “Stop lecturing”, two Modest Changes: “Build open offices for students and “Provide detailed review of all work; grade students on their ability to assist other students” and one Big Change for Engineering: Teach Engineering.
It is a long article but worth reading if you are an educator, one being educated or one paying for either of the above!
A friend of ours has written six workbooks designed for learners of English who need to improve their reading comprehension in order to do well in Christian institutions and organizations that require extensive reading in English. The books are designed to supplement classroom instruction with biblically contextualized passages and exercises. All of the workbooks are available as a FREE download, to print and photocopy for personal or class use, but may not be reproduced for profit.
Vocabulary Building for Biblical Studies is an intermediate level workbook of 15 chapters centering on biblical and Christian themes. Each unit includes a passage of 1000 words and exercises that aid the students in understanding and expanding their vocabulary.
Men and Women in the History of the Church is a pre-intermediate primer. Each unit begins with pre-reading questions and a biography of approximately 650 words. This is followed by exercises on reading comprehension and vocabulary building, and ends with discussion questions.
Developing Reading Skills: Jonah is a two-part pre-intermediate curriculum based on the books of Jonah and Ruth. Each curriculum includes a Student Workbook and a Teacher’s Book and introduces a variety of reading strategies, particularly observation-interpretation-application.
Developing Reading Skills: Ruth is a two-part pre-intermediate curriculum based on the books of Jonah and Ruth. Each curriculum includes a Student Workbook and a Teacher’s Book and introduces a variety of reading strategies, particularly observation-interpretation-application.
Israel’s Judges focuses on the beginner level, covers all 4 skills, and includes communicative grammar activities for class use. There is a listening component that can be downloaded as well.
Reviewing Grammar is a booklet intended to serve as a reference guide and a review of basic grammar rules for students writing in English. It is not an exhaustive study of English grammar; rather, it is a compilation of grammar definitions, explanations, and examples from several grammar books. Basic grammar points and some troublesome spots are addressed.
A compilation of many of the new web tools out there. Some are pretty basic but others may be new to you. I have a couple that I am going to try out.
Just read a fascinating article, The Case for Working with your hands by Matthew B. Crawford that was passed onto me by my wife. I have always had a high respect for people in the trades, who could create something with their hands. Sadly, being a tradesman here where I live is not an esteemed profession to which one would aspire. The goal for too many is to go to college, graduate and work in an air conditioned office behind a computer! Something is wrong with this picture! Reading Crawford may remind you of values we have forgotten in our post-modern culture. He notes, “A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.”
As somone who has spent most of my life in academics, I think I need to learn a new hobby in my old age!