Have You Read Anything Lately?
In What is the worth of words?, Michael Rogers–“The Practical Futurist”–pens a hypothetical report from 2025 in which literacy has practically disappeared upon the inundation of visual media and technology. Reading “is a luxury, not a necessity!” he proclaims. But before you get completely indignant, note that this is a Swiftian satire meant to spotlight the current erosion of reading and writing ability in today’s society.
What disturbed me most was not the article itself but a comment about the article I read somewhere else suggesting that there is too much money going into the math and sciences and that as a solution, this money could be better used to fund literacy programs. I really don’t think that is an answer. Not only can you not function in society without the ability to read, but you’d also be equally helpless if you didn’t know how to add or if you didn’t know how basic things work. I don’t think enough money is going towards education in general–but that’s another can of worms I’m not opening now.
If you want to get people to read, let them read something that they would enjoy even if it’s not on the literary snob’s list of approved brain food. All the literature teachers won’t help you if the only thing they recommend for children is the “classics” with the stipulation that everything else is trash. When I look back at the assigned reading I had to do in grade school, it’s a wonder I didn’t go completely mad. Some of that stuff was dull, plodding, and downright depressing.