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An ongoing tradition of reading
A Literate Generation?
Member Name: hawkida
A Literate Generation?
Date: 07/05/01, updated on 07/05/01 (44 review reads)
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One thing that certainly stands out in children is an ability to become familiar with reasonably complex technology or rules quite quickly. How many times have we heard the jokes about getting the seven year old to program the video recorder because dad can't quite wrap his head around it? How many kids are unfamiliar with the exact rules of progressing in a Pokemon battle on their Gameboy? And these are children who are entirely familiar with what computers do and who Harry Potter is.
There are roughly two generations of adults around now who grew up with television. This was, for a long time, seen as an evil in itself. Children who watched television were in danger of losing their reading comprehension skills and lacking the attention span necessary to get through an entire novel. Well, I'm one of those kids and the chances are half the readers are too - are we illiterate? It would seem not.
Now, television is traditionally a one way medium. You switch on, sit down and absorb. But babies born today will never recognise this as an aspect of television, for them it will always be a two way experience as they interact with shows or pick from a customised selection. And once you get beyond the on-off switches in life, pretty much everything requires some understanding of reading.
Most children are bright and inquisitive and will soak up knowledge. Today's world won't let them get too far without being able to comprehend words on a screen. But they're not having any trouble. Indeed, it could be argued that with access to the internet for homework and the whole JK Rowling success t
oday's youth is faced with far more opportunity to read than any that came before it. These are powerful tools for educating a child and letting them actually enjoy the process. There is no sense trying to deprive a child of the digital delights that so many parents fear - they'll only find ways around it since technology is so prevalent today.
Instead of fearing technology a parent should embrace it. Remember Speak 'n' Spell? It's grown up. You can now purchase a kiddie computer that will teach reading, visual recognition and basic maths for a very reasonable price. It makes learning fun. By all means keep traditional techniques as well - it's generally understood that the best way of encouraging a child to read is to make it pleasurable and to read TO the child. You can get help with this through the new UK programme sponsored by Sainsburys:- Bookstart (http://www.bookstart.co.uk)
Perhaps the biggest threat to reading skills at the moment is setting poor examples, and the largest crime against good literary example is the mobile phone text message. A whole group of youngsters is learning that it's perfectly acceptable to write "CU L8R" for "See you later" and that the word "Your" is adequately represented by "UR". In the world of the mobile phone this is fine - what kids need to learn is that there are different standards for different modes of communication - and they need to be encouraged to get familiar with the various types of written matter available to them.
But an illiterate generation? It's unlikely. If children today were really at a disadvantage in this respect then what would explain the whole Harry Potter phenomena or the general upsurge in reading that it has inspired. No, my understanding is that the backdrop of technology that this country now enjoys serves to create, promote and reward an interest in reading. And that's a good thing.