‘Computer heralds the end of the book’
When Gutenburg introduced the printing press to Europe in 1439, it revolutionised the way books were written, distributed and shared, and ultimately led to a social revolution. Some researchers argue that the adoption of the world wide web has had just as profound an impact on society.
One constant in both revolutions however is the need to be able to read. And not just read one word or a series of words but to understand the way a piece of writing is put together, its intended audience, its purpose and its context.
Every subject at Tech has a reading component, and each subject has a metalanguage that must be understood by students for them to succeed at school and in their future.
Neuroscientist have been busy examining what happens to the brain when we read, and with the help of modern technology such as MIR imaging they have undertaken many brain scans to try to discover the secrets of the brain when reading.
What is apparent is that reading produces a vivid stimulation of reality one that ‘runs on minds of readers, just as computer simulations run on computers’ Novels particularly ‘give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thought and feelings’, according to emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at University of Toronto, Ken Oatley
In general we will all read in two different ways; intensively and extensively. The advent of the computer has probably increased our focus on extensive reading: the quick skim, the twitter post the headline grab.
For academic success, we have got to get our students into the practice of intensive reading: a much deeper and more intellectual process, where we read for meaning and understanding; and we read with care and attention.
“Why Read? – (Source: whytoread.com)
1. It Develops Your Verbal Abilities
Although it doesn’t always make you a better communicator, those who read tend to have a more varied range of words to express how they feel and to get their point across. This increases exponentially with the more volumes you consume, giving you a higher level of vocabulary to use in everyday life.
2. It Improves Your Focus and Concentration
Sitting down with a book takes long periods of focus and concentration, which, at first, is hard to do. Being fully engaged in a book involves closing off the outside world and immersing yourself in the text, which over time will strengthen your attention span.
3. Readers Enjoy The Arts and Improve The World
A study done by Washington’s National Endowment for the Arts explains that people who read for pleasure are many times more likely than those who do not to visit museums and attend concerts, and almost three times as likely to perform volunteer and charity work. Readers are active participants in the world around them, and that engagement is critical to individual and social well-being.
4. It Improves Your Imagination
You are only limited by what you can imagine, and the worlds described in books, as well as other peoples’ views and opinions, will help you expand your understanding of what is possible. By reading a written description of an event or a place, your mind is responsible for creating that image in your head, instead of having the image placed in front of you when you watch television.
5. Reading Makes You Smarter
Books offer an outstanding wealth of learning. Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich’s “What Reading Does for the Mind” also noted that frequent and engaged readers tend to display greater knowledge of how things work and how people interact with the world around them. Books at home and reading at home have been strongly linked to academic achievement.
6. It Makes You Interesting
This goes hand in hand with reading to become smarter. Having a library of information that you have picked up from non-fiction reading will come in handy in any academic or scholarly conversation. You will be able to hold your own and add to the conversation instead of having to make your excuses and leave. You will be able to engage a wider variety of people in conversation and in turn improve your knowledge and conversation skills.
7. It Reduces Stress
A study by consultancy firm Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading reduces stress. Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. In fact, it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.
8. It Improves Your Memory
In their book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Maryanne Wolf explains that “Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don’t press pause.” The benefits of this increased activity keep your memory sharp and your learning capacity nimble.
9. To Discover and Create Yourself
In his book “How to Read and Why”, Harold Bloom says that we should read slowly, with love, openness, and with our inner ear cocked. He explains we should read to increase our wit and imagination, our sense of intimacy–in short, our entire consciousness–and also to heal our pain. “Until you become yourself, what benefit can you be to others?” With the endless amount of perspectives and lives we can read about, books can give us an opportunity to have experiences that we haven’t had the opportunity to, and still allow us to learn the life skills they entail. Books are a fast track to creating yourself.
10. For Entertainment
All the benefits of reading mentioned so far are a bonus result of the most important benefit of reading; Its entertainment value. If it were not for the entertainment value, reading would be a chore, but it needn’t be. Reading is not only fun, but it has all the added benefits that we have discussed so far. Much more enthralling than watching a movie or a TV show (although they have their many benefits as well), a good book can keep us amused while developing our life skills.”
Follow the link for some reading suggestions: