Warning. The Following is Contraversial

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!?!?

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.

How many times will you see this while wondering down the halls of a school?

“But books are so good for learning!” the parents and teachers cry.  Hmmmm.  These are books.

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  • 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.
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5 thoughts on “Warning. The Following is Contraversial

  1. I have no idea why the last half of that is bolded. Sorry.

  2. Mom says:

    What it you get a 7th grader that wants to learn how to recruit actors for pornographic movies, or someone wants to read a book on how to be an hired killer, or learn about how to commit suicide? How about a student who is ADHA orAD and is just killing time until they can quit school. Sometimes insisting that someone read a certain book or lean a certain thing can stimulate them to want to learn more, or discover an interest that they didn’t know they had. Just because someone doesn’t want to do something doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. That sort of thing in school (reading books they don’t like) prepares them for their future where they for sure are going to be in situations that they don’t like and are going to have to do things they don’t like. That’s life “suck it up princess”.

    • Are you suggesting we force people to avoid certain interests? We can’t just decide what people want to read. Of course, a book such as “Suicide for Dummies” should probably be banned, but why does everybody have to read “Lord of the Flies?” Oh sure, you could recommend that a person read a certain book. But why force the entire class to read the same book? And, why does it have to be a book? Why not let people follow their instincts and read what intrigues them? Or, let them do something they find enjoyable, even if it’s not on pages? People will usually be able to direct themselves toward their own interests better than you can, especially when you consider that “you” is usually just some teacher who doesn’t know the student individually at all.
      Also, that whole “I’m going to make you suffer because you’re going to suffer later attitude,” (by doing things you don’t want to) is a little messed up. How about the person who’s going to make you suffer later focus on not making you suffer? How ’bout we solve that problem? Maybe they’re okay with making you suffer because THEY consider it training.
      Also, MOM, this is my blog. Don’t tell me to “suck it up princess” because teenagers are ALLOWED to whine on their blogs. This is where we go to do that.

  3. Joanne Brown says:

    Heh Laura, I was just going to share your blog site with a student from my school who loves to write. She is travelling soon to work in Saskatchewan, I believe, with Child Evangelism Fellowship. I think she will be 15 this year too–maybe we can all go to Millar Youth Edge together this November…do some serious talking about writing, watch the Millar drama team in action, and get pumped about serving the Lord! Love ya! Joanne (P.S. – Thanks for you know what–so proud of you…I think you are being like the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 8: 9-13–yeh!)

  4. Joanne Brown says:

    P.S. – I agree on how novel reading can be equated to any other form of entertainment, i.e., they are on par for entertainment value. And all can be harmful if engaged in excessively. As a teacher, if I taught English, (and I do try to do this in my Bible classes) I like to expose my students (and
    myself) to media that take us beyond entertainment.

    Not saying that media for entertainment is wrong at all. But, at school, I want to introduce newness…media that engages our emotions but stretches us to grow in any way. Appreciate your concern for good change in our schools!

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