Friday, May 15, 2009

Hanging Out in 1984, Bored Stiff

For the final in English 101, I included a portion of an article printed in the New York Times contrasting reading in a book and reading on the web. The article didn't discuss blogs, but instead the distractions posed by web reading, and the non-linear way it pulls a reader through material. Since I'm a teacher, I ended where it champions book reading.

The students had to first annotate the excerpt for the argument, then in a written answer discuss the argument and support.

The answers were all over the map, as about half of them couldn't discern the argument in this short (1 page) piece. {Note to self: lead with annotation in the next term, and with a discussion of argument.}

I was intrigued with one young man's rationale for why his age group (discussed in the article) doesn't read, as opposed to the older, wrinkled, and nearly dead folks who do (that would be people like me, you see):
"In this article they state that a fifth of 17-year-olds said they read for fun and in 1984 more 17-year-olds read for fun. Most people in 1984 really didn't have much to do back then, so of course more people are going to read for fun. Now that we have better technology people read on-line. Time has changed and more and more people rely on technology more then books. Although books could help on certain subjects."
There you have it, misspellings, errors and all. Take it from the authority: if you were hanging around in 1984, you weren't having much fun.


barbara said...

Well, I was hanging around, and I was busy and having fun. I didn't realize that some young people were so disconnected from the rest of us.

Ramona said...

Lessee, in 1984 I was trying to teach Texas students that football was not the be all and end all of existence. One student told me that there was nothing so important in life as the rankings of college football but could not name the national champions that year (BYU, amazingly, and the only reason I knew it). The more things change, the more they stay the same. I also brought in the study done by the Chronicle of Higher Education, which cited the fact the bottom quarter of college students were the ones going into teaching, trying to encourage my brighter students to consider teaching as a career. I was told by the students they preferred a less bright teacher who loved the students rather than a smart one who did not love the students. I did not know smart people were so mean and unloving. It is an unending astonishment to me how the lowest common denominator has become the goal strived for. We seek after mediocrity and are successful at obtaining it. Good luck next semester. I feel your pain :0) but we enjoy your prose.
Dan Wheeler (and Ramona)