Whenever I hear something about the end or the continuing life of reading and writing I always try to remember that the kind of reading and writing matters as much as the quantity. That’s why it’s important to look carefully at the ongoing research into literacy reported in the Washington Post piece, “Teens are still reading for fun, say media specialists.” The details matter.
It’s not that Facebook and phones are bad for literacy– in some cases, they can reinforce creative and critical thinking– but that the sustained attention and concentration required in some kinds of reading and writing– novels, essays, memoir, — is important to the personal and intellectual transformations that are a necessary part of being educated and informed.
This is the sort of common sense pedagogical idea that’s beginning to emerge– or to re-emerge– out of all of the fog surrounding new media technology. In effect, the media doesn’t matter as much as the type of reading and writing, as the Frazier International School in Chicago illustrates. Lots of writing and well paid, supported teachers. Who knew that’s the key to a good school?