Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | The Guardian

Article summary: When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age writes Maryanne Wolf, author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World.

Yes, this is another article bemoaning the loss of reading skills in this digital age of ours. But it too is based on hard – dare we say cold – evidence from multiple scientific fields. And if we are not paying attention, the technology will consume us before we know it. Our digital technology is rapidly changing the way we not only read but also think – and as this article informs us, even feel. We are losing much, and we need to change the way we use our technology. As this author argues, we need a “new literacy” for our digital age.

Here are a few choice thoughts for all of us to chew on and digest, especially parents and educators. Read the full article at the link below.

….This is not a simple, binary issue of print vs digital reading and technological innovation. As MIT scholar Sherry Turkle has written, we do not err as a society when we innovate, but when we ignore what we disrupt or diminish while innovating. In this hinge moment between print and digital cultures, society needs to confront what is diminishing in the expert reading circuit, what our children and older students are not developing, and what we can do about it.

…Multiple studies show that digital screen use may be causing a variety of troubling downstream effects on reading comprehension in older high school and college students. In Stavanger, Norway, psychologist Anne Mangen and her colleagues studied how high school students comprehend the same material in different mediums. Mangen’s group asked subjects questions about a short story whose plot had universal student appeal…; half of the students read [the book] on a Kindle, the other half in paperback. Results indicated that students who read on print were superior in their comprehension to screen-reading peers, particularly in their ability to sequence detail and reconstruct the plot in chronological order.

…Ziming Liu from San Jose State University has conducted a series of studies which indicate that the “new norm” in reading is skimming, with word-spotting and browsing through the text. Many readers now use an F or Z pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the text. When the reading brain skims like this, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes. In other words, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings, to perceive beauty, and to create thoughts of the reader’s own.

…We need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a “bi-literate” reading brain capable of the deepest forms of thought in either digital or traditional mediums. A great deal hangs on it: the ability of citizens in a vibrant democracy to try on other perspectives and discern truth; the capacity of our children and grandchildren to appreciate and create beauty; and the ability in ourselves to go beyond our present glut of information to reach the knowledge and wisdom necessary to sustain a good society.

Source: Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | Opinion | The Guardian

Published in: on August 27, 2018 at 10:50 PM  Comments (2)