Why Canadian kids canít read


Murphy
#1
This is from 2011. I was still teaching. The situation today is no better.

The cause is cell phones, computers, the Internet, television, interactive games and a world that has moved away from the printed word and toward visual stimuli.

The trouble seems to be that, like the old joke, does it come with pictures? Short. Sweet. To the point. Short. Attention. Spans. In large measure, it is the result of social media acronyms, emojis, and media types who want to deliver messages quickly and with little fuss.

Words do not have to be printed on paper. Tablets, phones and computer screens can be jam packed with them. They are waiting to be discovered. How do we get young people reading again?

Mallick: Why Canadian kids canít read
How does a smart but untutored child become an autodidact, a self-teacher? You need good teachers who introduce you to books. And a book source.

By Heather Mallick
Fri., May 20, 2011


I am staring at a fourth-year university student who is headed for an M.A. in political science next September. I am teaching Introductory Journalism. I have asked him to write a brief review of something ó a novel or film, perhaps ó he can describe, compare and plausibly rate.

He has never read a book.

No, nothing beyond assigned reading, which I suspect he has not done either. He has never seen a documentary. In the end, we settle on Batman movies, which it turns out he is unable to describe in sequence or place in context by reading about Batman movies online, but I pass him because the department head ó itís a fairly new university ó relays to me complaints from students who suspect I might fail them. I fail no one.

The long, painful span between this student, who wonít read, and a man named Francis Spufford, the cleverest man in England ó ďplease stop calling me that,Ē he says ó who canít not read, is worth studying.

Spufford, whom I interviewed over a three-hour lunch in London, wrote a book called The Child That Books Built, about his fraught childhood whose pains he escaped by reading. His little sister was dying slowly of a rare kidney disease, his parents were ďgrey-skinned with fatigueĒ caring for her, and it was all very bad. So Spufford read. He was a one-child reading industry.

I seek an explanation of the phenomenon that the novelist Jonathan Franzen calls ďsocial isolates.Ē These fortunate children lock into reading, ďgazing at experience through the mesh of paragraphs,Ē as Spufford describes it. They can grow up hyper-social, deeply interested in humans, but ďthe most important dialogue in their life is with the authors of the books they read.Ē

How does a smart but untutored child become an autodidact, a self-teacher? You need good teachers who introduce you to books. And you need a book source. ďThese things have got to be there in your environment for you to luck into find them,Ē Spufford says. ďIs your public library system being shredded like ours?Ē I shudder to tell him that we have destroyed our school libraries already, and the public libraries are next.

The rest here.

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight...cant_read.html
 
Johnnny
#2
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

but I pass him because the department head ó itís a fairly new university ó relays to me complaints from students who suspect I might fail them. I fail no one.

I've seen this kinda stuff 2 years ago in College.

It was a Math class and the teacher went about teaching math. You know, writing stuff on the board and showing us how to do it. In the class, 99% of the kids age 19-26 all complained that he was a bad teacher and that he couldn't teach math. Truth is though i thought he was doing all right. Anyways he would slow things down and try and engage them more and more, but the kids still hated on him because a lot of them weren't getting it. So in super cool teacher fashion he tells the class that he will come to school on his own time on Sundays for 3 hours in the afternoon to in a sense "tutor" anyone who has problems with Math. He did this for 4 weeks until he stopped. Why did he stop? No one went. I stopped by two Sundays just to really shoot the shit with him. Anyways the kids still said he was a terrible teacher and when you pointed out the time he made available on Sundays, the excuse he got is that "That's my personal time, why would i come to school on Sunday". He ended up having to pass everyone anyways also.
 
Murphy
#3
It is a sad state of affairs, and it's difficult to know how widespread it is. It cannot be a problem everywhere, or we would hear about accidents and miscalculations in the workplace. It does make me wonder about those professions where language skills have to be above average.
 
TenPenny
+1
#4  Top Rated Post
Heather Malick would make anyone want to not read.
 
justlooking
+1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

It is a sad state of affairs, and it's difficult to know how widespread it is. It cannot be a problem everywhere, or we would hear about accidents and miscalculations in the workplace. It does make me wonder about those professions where language skills have to be above average.

The coffee machines automatically dispense the correct amount of water for the PhD barista workers.
So no problems to report.
 
Curious Cdn
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

It is a sad state of affairs, and it's difficult to know how widespread it is. It cannot be a problem everywhere, or we would hear about accidents and miscalculations in the workplace. It does make me wonder about those professions where language skills have to be above average.

When I was a lad, they taught me cursive writing with a fountain pen. What I really needed to know was how to use a keyboard but nobody back then had that clue.

Now, they teach kids all about the ins and outs of fiddling with electronic devices but what they really need to know is how to organize and vocalize logical, step-by-step sequences of instructions that a computer can follow and understand. Most of the scatterbrained and goo-headed being produced by our high schools will be utterly left out of the "new" economy.
 
Danbones
+1
#7
It's often been said: If you don't teach your kids to read at home, they will never learn.

It's a good thing teachers have lefty commie nazi unions...
or they would be paying US for doing their jobs for them.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

This is from 2011. I was still teaching. The situation today is no better.

According to Jinentonix, it's all Harper's fault.

Quote:

The cause is cell phones, computers, the Internet, television, interactive games and a world that has moved away from the printed word and toward visual stimuli.

The trouble seems to be that, like the old joke, does it come with pictures? Short. Sweet. To the point. Short. Attention. Spans. In large measure, it is the result of social media acronyms, emojis, and media types who want to deliver messages quickly and with little fuss.

Words do not have to be printed on paper. Tablets, phones and computer screens can be jam packed with them. They are waiting to be discovered. How do we get young people reading again?

Books are responsible for kids who can't recite ten thousand lines of history in poem form. Those books rotted their brains.
 
Curious Cdn
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

According to Jinentonix, it's all Harper's fault.


Books are responsible for kids who can't recite ten thousand lines of history in poem form. Those books rotted their brains.

How much of Beowulf can YOU recite in Anglo-Saxon, Mr. Lazybrain?
 
Tecumsehsbones
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

How much of Beowulf can YOU recite in Anglo-Saxon, Mr. Lazybrain?

I don't concern myself with the internal politics of a small island on the other side of the ocean.

You apparently do. How much of the Tain Bo Cualgne can you recite?

The error here, of course, lies in presuming that the primary information acquisition method one grew up with is the perfect one, and all else is inferior. This is nothing new. Other inventions that people have pissed and moaned are destroying kids' minds include the telephone, radio broadcasting, films, and television.

Oh, and rock n' roll, of course.
 
Danbones
#11
You left out the "give us a child till he is seven and he is ours for life" jesuits
 
TenPenny
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

This is from 2011. I was still teaching. The situation today is no better.



So, you were part of the problem is what you're saying.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

How does a smart but untutored child become an autodidact, a self-teacher? You need good teachers who introduce you to books.

So, the way for an untaught child to become an autodidact is teachers?

Can you spot the logical flaw in this statement, teach?
 
Murphy
#14
Absolutely. I believe what she meant to say was that without formal education - teachers and brick and mortar schools - how do you get an untaught child to want to learn? How do you grab their attention? Is there a better methodology?

First, we have to understand that we are products of our generation. What confounds older people who control education is precisely what the young are used to and understand. Young people were born into an electronic age. When I posted the article, I said that ipods, cell phones, tablets, etc. changed our world. Use it, don't reject it!

Education had not caught up to that changing world. We had to transition from reading paper books and writing things on a black or whiteboard, to electronically painting the pages. But the PhDs, and EdDs are old school and slower to change. They control the classrooms because they write the books and head up the institutions. Their failing (even now) is that they are products of their generation, many of whom are unwilling or even scared of the new ways. Many are too timid to tey to understand and incorporate it into the learning process.

About 20 years ago, I started using music videos in my classroom presentations. They had little or nothing to do with the lesson, but my feeling was that the mind needed a break. I used to say every half hour, but the various think tanks since have said 20 minutes. After a year, the average climbed by about 5%. Retention increased. Fewer people were bored and lost interest. Their class time was a positive experience, not the old fashioned, dreary hour of wah, wah, wah. I used tech to freshen things up.

That was fine for the classroom, but what about those young people who drop out, or are kicked out because they cannot conform to the school system? If one accepts that learning is a lifelong experience, how can they be encouraged to continue learning?

First is, use the tech that they know as a tool. Computers, iphones, tablets, gpses, etc. Educators should not be poopooing the tech. They should be embracing it and devising ways of incorporating tech into the learning process. That's the crux of it all. Keep current.

Involve the student. How? Visual stimuli are more the norm now. Interactive works well. Get the student to contribute rather than having a teacher stand at the front and ramble. That can be done with interactive games, gpses (geocaching), television, etc.

Don't be afraid of their input. Teachers should be thought of as guides, not deep wells of knowledge. Most aren't anyway. Teachers and students can both learn and have fun doing it.

Traditional classrooms don't work for everything. I used to take students out of the bldg. We went on mini field trips. Along the way, everyone chatted about why we were going, what we'd see, etc. Learning does not have to be an difficult process. I argued that the more fun you have, the better. Learning became easy because no one knew they were learning. At the same time, it kept the blood circulating, which helped their physical and mental well being.

Traditional hours don't work for everything. People's biological clocks aren't all the same. You might find you are at your best first thing in the morning. Others, later in the day. Learning outside of the classroom during non-traditional hours is an option for some subjects.

I could go on, but it would turn into more of a novel than it already is.
Last edited by Murphy; Sep 21st, 2017 at 05:45 PM..
 
Curious Cdn
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

I don't concern myself with the internal politics of a small island on the other side of the ocean.

You apparently do. How much of the Tain Bo Cualgne can you recite?

The error here, of course, lies in presuming that the primary information acquisition method one grew up with is the perfect one, and all else is inferior. This is nothing new. Other inventions that people have pissed and moaned are destroying kids' minds include the telephone, radio broadcasting, films, and television.

Oh, and rock n' roll, of course.

Beowulf was written on the continent. Gotland+- ...

Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

I don't concern myself with the internal politics of a small island on the other side of the ocean.

You apparently do. How much of the Tain Bo Cualgne can you recite?

The error here, of course, lies in presuming that the primary information acquisition method one grew up with is the perfect one, and all else is inferior. This is nothing new. Other inventions that people have pissed and moaned are destroying kids' minds include the telephone, radio broadcasting, films, and television.

Oh, and rock n' roll, of course.

Beowulf was written on the continent. Gotland+- ... or some other Teuton viper's nest ... at an early bund meeting.
 
White_Unifier
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

This is from 2011. I was still teaching. The situation today is no better.

The cause is cell phones, computers, the Internet, television, interactive games and a world that has moved away from the printed word and toward visual stimuli.

The trouble seems to be that, like the old joke, does it come with pictures? Short. Sweet. To the point. Short. Attention. Spans. In large measure, it is the result of social media acronyms, emojis, and media types who want to deliver messages quickly and with little fuss.

Words do not have to be printed on paper. Tablets, phones and computer screens can be jam packed with them. They are waiting to be discovered. How do we get young people reading again?

Mallick: Why Canadian kids canít read
How does a smart but untutored child become an autodidact, a self-teacher? You need good teachers who introduce you to books. And a book source.

By Heather Mallick
Fri., May 20, 2011


I am staring at a fourth-year university student who is headed for an M.A. in political science next September. I am teaching Introductory Journalism. I have asked him to write a brief review of something ó a novel or film, perhaps ó he can describe, compare and plausibly rate.

He has never read a book.

No, nothing beyond assigned reading, which I suspect he has not done either. He has never seen a documentary. In the end, we settle on Batman movies, which it turns out he is unable to describe in sequence or place in context by reading about Batman movies online, but I pass him because the department head ó itís a fairly new university ó relays to me complaints from students who suspect I might fail them. I fail no one.

The long, painful span between this student, who wonít read, and a man named Francis Spufford, the cleverest man in England ó ďplease stop calling me that,Ē he says ó who canít not read, is worth studying.

Spufford, whom I interviewed over a three-hour lunch in London, wrote a book called The Child That Books Built, about his fraught childhood whose pains he escaped by reading. His little sister was dying slowly of a rare kidney disease, his parents were ďgrey-skinned with fatigueĒ caring for her, and it was all very bad. So Spufford read. He was a one-child reading industry.

I seek an explanation of the phenomenon that the novelist Jonathan Franzen calls ďsocial isolates.Ē These fortunate children lock into reading, ďgazing at experience through the mesh of paragraphs,Ē as Spufford describes it. They can grow up hyper-social, deeply interested in humans, but ďthe most important dialogue in their life is with the authors of the books they read.Ē

How does a smart but untutored child become an autodidact, a self-teacher? You need good teachers who introduce you to books. And you need a book source. ďThese things have got to be there in your environment for you to luck into find them,Ē Spufford says. ďIs your public library system being shredded like ours?Ē I shudder to tell him that we have destroyed our school libraries already, and the public libraries are next.

The rest here.

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight...cant_read.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intern...ction_disorder
https://screentimelabs.com/
Mobicip - Parental Controls for Smartphones, Tablets & Computers
 
MHz
+1
#17
As long as they don't turn out to be as bigoted as you (Murphy) it would be worth the change. The odds are the resources they have would make them much more informed that reading a few books that would have their own prejudices in them with no rebuttal.

Quote: Originally Posted by White_Unifier View Post

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intern...ction_disorder
https://screentimelabs.com/
Mobicip - Parental Controls for Smartphones, Tablets & Computers

Cool, now how about one for patents and teachers that are part of societies problem.
 
Murphy
#18
You are a lonely, bitter man, but you can change and enjoy yourself at the same time. You should consider joining or meeting with a social club or organization. Meet with others like yourself. You will feel better.
 
Curious Cdn
#19
... or, you could become a babbling butterfly chaser like ole Murph, here.

Talk to plants, much?
 
Murphy
+1
#20
Only the ones that respond to vibration. Like Mhz, you should consider some introspection too.
 
Curious Cdn
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

Only the ones that respond to vibration. Like Mhz, you should consider some introspection too.

Dr. Murph is either an amateur psychologist or the Moderator of the United Church of Canada.
 
Murphy
#22
May you find your serenity.
 
taxslave
#23
My grandkids both read well above their age level. Both got started really early, in fact it is hard to pry the young lad out of his book to go out to play.
 
White_Unifier
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by MHz View Post

As long as they don't turn out to be as bigoted as you (Murphy) it would be worth the change. The odds are the resources they have would make them much more informed that reading a few books that would have their own prejudices in them with no rebuttal.


Cool, now how about one for patents and teachers that are part of societies problem.

What do you mean?
 
Murphy
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslave View Post

My grandkids both read well above their age level. Both got started really early, in fact it is hard to pry the young lad out of his book to go out to play.

That's good. If parents or grandparents get children reading at an early age, the seed is planted and with encouragement, stays with them for life. For the ones who have problems with reading, or do not fit into a traditional school system, other methods must be used or discovered.

Part of the solution, in my view, is to use familiar objects like cell phones, tablets, etc. to accomplish that. Electronic devices are tools. Part of an arsenal to improve the lives of everyone. In this discussion, it would improve the lot of children that fall through the cracks of educational system

The methodology must be constantly revised.
 
Bar Sinister
#26
When I was in university fifty years ago I helped a number of students with their English. To my my surprise many of these students had very good marks in high school, but somewhere along the way basic spelling and grammar was not absorbed.
 
Danbones
#27
It's the way it's taught
 
Murphy
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by Bar Sinister View Post

When I was in university fifty years ago I helped a number of students with their English. To my my surprise many of these students had very good marks in high school, but somewhere along the way basic spelling and grammar was not absorbed.

I saw a lack of basic skills with some of my students. I have never seen a study or even a thesis that explained why this is increasing. Academia is still undecided on the how and why. I believe it is a combination of things.

The ability to discipline was taken away or reduced by some boards. I am not talking about the strap. I am referring to detentions, essays or special assignments prepared by difficult students. Some boards consider this unfair. They feel teachers are singling out students, embarrassing and humiliating them.

Test methods (learning assessments) are difficult for staff to work within. The standard English test methods - multiple choice, short answers, and verbal assessments haven't really changed in 50 years or more.

We have to look at school boards and provincial governments. The policy of many boards was not to fail students. Some places suspended testing in favour of attendance rolls. Those who continually cut classes were labeled 'difficult' or 'special needs' and moved down the road.

The special needs area is a real rat's nest. Children with learning disabilities, autism, and other difficulties often go unrecognized and are passed on through the system. Some children are never assessed at all, coming out the end more dysfunctional than when they first went to school. It is less of a problem to have a 10 year old who cannot read than it is an 18 year old. How will these teenagers make out in the workplace?

Special needs students have to be assessed by doctors and educational specialists. The process takes time, can be expensive and is often frustrating for parents. From 3 to 18, minors are placed on waiting lists for learning assessments, funding, medical diagnosis, disability assessments, educational assistants, special help programs. The list goes on. The process is daunting for parents whose children are not learning at the rate that falls within the bell curve.

It is a windy, difficult path from Kindergarten to the finish of formal schooling, whatever that may be. Some parents don't care. Others complain too much.

Principals are responsible for their schools budget. The yearly amount is fixed. They are constantly juggling to find the money to pay EAs, programs and tech for the classrooms.

I have a lot of respect for people whose job involves assessment and special programs. They have remarkable patience and thick skins.
Last edited by Murphy; Sep 21st, 2017 at 11:58 PM..