A few months ago, I purchased a book for one of my friends that I thought she may like; Albom’s ‘Five People You Meet In Heaven,’ in a hope to engage her into a topic that is of great interest to me – literature. Eagerly, I asked of how she was progressing, only to be told that she hadn’t actually started it. (5 months on!)
On another occasion, I have had a different friend confuse Frankenstein for the monster, and not its creator.
I have always read; being seventeen years old and an obsessive reader of all forms of literature, I can’t help but feel saddened by the fact that my generation cannot see literature as an art form; a way of learning from past intellectuals, as well as being enjoyable. I’ve read a wide range of genres and texts, ranging from Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ to currently reading Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’; the contextual knowledge and insight into these great writer’s mindsets is – in my opinion – priceless, with regards to how life can play out.
From constant broadcasts and news feeds, we are being presented with a generation that is more inspired by mobile phones, violent video games – see previous post – and media that should be censored than actual books and novels. In a way, this is partly true. More young teenagers are doing things that only years ago would have been considered highly taboo for their age groups; nowadays, it’s commonplace to see thirteen year old boys using eye-watering expletives, and girls that are obsessed with losing weight when they’re paper thin. (which could be done easily, if only they’d take their makeup off!)
As everyone does, I own a mobile phone, and I do like video games; however, I fail to see why reading has recently been stigmatised to such a degree.It has now got to a point now that changes must be made. An study conducted by scholars at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy (the article can be found here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618170920.htm) has suggested that children who spend times on computers are much more likely to get poor maths and literacy scores, which I would suggest is down to the lack of time they are investing into studying and exploring topics that interest them.
This problem seems widespread.
How can this be resolved? By taking the phones and the video games away from their owners?
No. Personally, I feel that teachers, parents, and any other form of teaching assistant / aide should be teaching that new technologies and works of literature are complementary, and not mutually exclusive. The way for children to start reading properly is for society to embrace it, making visits to places of learning common. Furthermore, the exam syllabus that schools use should become more engaging and less predictable – instead of studying Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Hamlet’, why not Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire’, or E.M Foster’s ‘A Passage To India’; novels which are both intellectually challenging, whilst having life lessons and underpinning contextual information in them. Teachers should be making more of an effort to integrate and merge new information communication technologies with their teaching methods, to further state that the ideas of reading / learning and being ‘cool’ and ‘modern’ aren’t necessarily that distant from each other as they perceive.
What do you think? How can modern students engage with literature again? Is it possible, or are books already stigmatised? Do you feel that children even need to know how read and write, with modern day functions such as spell checkers and voice-to-character recognition?