26 June 2012

An english professor once told me that there was a word shortage in my world. And yes, I am a bit pithy. I like to be concise. It's said that Einstein wouldn't let his assistants use more than one sheet of paper for their ideas. They had to explain things clearly and briefly, otherwise no one would understand.

We live in a world of short attention spans. So perhaps I pander to the times. However, I also feel that we also live in a time of great abundance of words. It's easier to get published, or at least self-publish these days. The internet and cell phones have created new versions of written english. And because of these two things combined, some awful work is out there. My problem with the argument that some of these awful publications are making kids read, is that it's making them read crap.

And then there's the movies made from this drivel. Making a movie of something does one of two things to people who see the movie. It either incentivises them to read the books for themselves, or disincentivises them to the same. They already have the story, why read it? The Lord of the Rings movies surely popularized Tolkien, but most people my age and younger still haven't read the books. My mother told me I should read them before I saw the movies. I am glad that I did. That way, I still have my mental images of the characters and places. The movies made that impossible for those who read after watching. And I don't blame Peter Jackson (the writer/director) at all, the New Zealand sets and wonderful cast are quite unforgettable. Still, nothing beats the power of imagination.

Some people criticize schools (high schools mostly) for forcing kids to read certain things, discuss each bit of the book, write about it, take tests on it, ect. They say it's not making kids want to read, instead it's making them hate reading because they associate reading with a bunch of useless work. I partially (but only partially) agree with this. I certainly didn't like to read all of the things I was assigned to read. I even changed my major because I preferred reading on my own time. However, what I think lit classes are good for goes way beyond trying to get kids to like reading. Instead, it's to inbed a method into a person. This method of breaking things down and understanding them and discussing them with others is very usefull in most professions. That is what school is about, really. Most classes are not supposed to be teaching you one specific thing, but a method to carry onward and use for many other things. Exceptions are science (mostly) and history and geography. Facts are facts. But math, literature, foreign languages and the like are about the process. Or should be. In my most humble opinion.

And what began as a post about briefness turned into a rant about drivel, with a touch on schooling. How's that for maundering?

1 comment:

Abby said...

Aha, maybe not so sore anymore?

I agree with your humble opinions. I too appreciate conciseness. As a teacher, I've graded many the essay that droned on and on and went nowhere. One of my favorite "essays" - used as an example to teach us how to grade essays - was one sentence long.

And yes, school reading should be for building fundamentals and critical thinking skills. Sounds good in theory anyway.