In his article in the Atlantic, Is Google making us Stupider, Nicholas Carr describes the feeling of losing his span of attention.
He describes how he used to love immersing himself into words and books and lengthy prose; but now, with computer-based reading occupying increasingly more of his reading, he struggles to read past a few paragraphs. Instead of thoughtful and involved reading, he is gleaning for ideas, while being bombarded by competing images and advertising.
He describes his transformation as the difference between swimming and Jet Skiing.
Carr is certainly not the only one having the experience of peeked distractibility online. But what are the implications of this kind of transformation in reading?
Is this phenomenon, as Carr suggests, making us ‘stupider’? Or are we, and our students benefiting from seeing more?
Perhaps online reading about: gardening, adventure travel, global issues (or any wide variety of topics), could actually be a richer experience for students (or any learner) if accompanied by images, links, and pop-ups.
If that is the case, then to deny our kids online reading, and promote books is an educational crime.
Is the pursuit of slow the equivalent of a thumb in the eye of the speed boat of technology? Does it behoove us all to get on the boat now or risk being left behind to become obsolete? (Have you noticed this about technology; at a certain point, if you’re not on Facebook, or you don’t’ have a cell phone, you’re a pain in the ass!?)
I think what it comes down is this: like any Jet Ski ride, the adrenaline rush is great at first, but eventually the ride has to either go somewhere, or come to an end. Extending the metaphor, at some point, students will find an area of interest, get off the Jet Ski and swim in the words.
And the reading will be more powerful because they will have found it on their own. Our job as educators, then must be that of guide and life guard.
The International School of Prague (ISP) Elementary School English language specialist (EAL) teachers and mainstream classroom teachers are increasingly wo...