Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Children's leisure reading and computers in the home

Computers have been a massive boon for all of us: I am writing this blog on an Apple Mac in the kitchen: if I want to find information, I use Google, the list is endless. However, there may be a downside, as computer use has eaten into our leisure time and replaced reading, and that can be a serious disadvantage to the smaller people on this planet.
Professor Monica Rosén of the Department of Education and Special Education at the University of Gothenburg, has analyzed differences between different countries over time in order to explain change in reading achievement among 9-10-year olds. What she found was that "reading ability has improved steadily in Italy and Hungary, while it has fallen rapidly since 1991 in both the US and Sweden". The common link was that in both Sweden and the US, leisure use of computers in the home had rapidly increased whilst visits to the local library and the frequency of leisure reading have both declined: and it's not just the children who are reading less, it's adults too.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think that our children need to find their way around computers and the relevant software, as they are an intrinsic part of daily life: however, here's the big BUT...
BUT, there's no taking away from the fact that if our next generation is not going to be less literate than the previous ones, then we do need to think about how to encourage our children to read more in their leisure time. This can be done using the traditional book form, or on a computer, an iPad or laptop if they prefer that method; but if they use the electronic format, then they will have to be more "disciplined" (I was once told that the origin of the word discipline is a Greek word that means "to allow to grow") and not be distracted by the myriad of games that currently tempt them.
Leisure reading is about going to another part of the brain where the imagination lives, and this is a critical part of a child's development: it is also a gift that parents can give their children for life
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1 comment:

Kay said...

Good blog, Duncan.

How is imagination linked to learning?