I’m a writer. There is nobody who values books, the word, the story, more that me. So, take it seriously when I say that novels should be less emphasized when it comes to learning.
What am I saying!? Parents and teachers put such an emphasis on the importance of young people reading. Ask a teenager how many times they’ve heard, “Get off that couch and get some exercise and fresh air! Socialize! Here, read a book!” The logic is flawed to say the least. You’re not physically moving, so a book reader could be as fat as your regular couch potato, and most people who read and nothing else end up way socially stunted. It’s much easier to socialize through a TV.
“But books are so good for learning!” the parents and teachers cry. Hmmmm. These are books.
- I’m pretty sure these would be just teeming with educational goodness. Meanwhile, your teenager could have been watching the science channel.
- Now, watch it. I’m not saying TV is better than books, I’m saying that, when you tally up all the good and bad, they’re probably about equal. Same with any other medium actually. Video games, TV, movies; they all vary in their educational content as much as books. And here’s why: the first purpose of all those mediums, books included, is ENTERTAINMENT. No joke. Novels are a form of entertainment.
- I’m sure most authors would want to beat their heads against the wall, were they to encounter what is common in schools nowadays. Kids forced to read novels, suffering all the way through it. Stories weren’t written to make people suffer! Most writers will tell yah if you’re bored after the first few chapters, put the book down! Don’t keep reading it in a daze and write an essay on it afterward! Forcing kids with no interest in novels to read novels just creates kids who hate novels. Sure, novels have messages and themes and morals, but these are things that shouldn’t be shoved down your throat anyways. That’s why they are garbed in an entertaining form, stories. Oh, and again, all those other mediums have the same thing.
- (There are a few exceptions though. Novels that have a moral as the first goal, and entertainment as the second. 1984 is probably the best example.)
- The only way novels offer more learning than any other medium is through their words. A hardcore reader cannot help but booster their vocabulary through reading, which makes them sound a lot smarter, because they can convey their meanings better. And that is a legitimate form of intelligence. People should have better vocabularies. But forcing people to read novels designed to be entertaining isn’t the way to go about it.
- Maybe, just maybe, we could allow people to choose whatever “entertainment medium with a learning side effect” they wanted, and we could amp up the vocabulary in that medium. Or maybe we could just let people learn whatever they want to. Because, after all, there’s a lot we can learn from visual mediums that are hard to convey through a novel.
- Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a thought-provoking movie, or that a television show has never stimulated your imagination. And, if they haven’t, you’re probably not the type to think that way. And there’s no amount of novels we can push your face into to turn you into that thinker.