Reader, Come Home

Today, I would like to share with you a bit of the book “Reader, Come Home”, by Maryanne Wolf. This book has triggered a lot of reflection, being a techie myself on how I have been taking the habit of reading lately. According to her, we might be losing the ability to read a favorite book in an era of screen immersion.

Neuroscience explains that the ability to read did not evolve naturally in humans, different from sight and vision. Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains acrobatically rewired in such a way that it decodes written words into meaning. However, the same skill that allows us to read makes us vulnerable to the avalanche of digital input that we are immersed in, due to the world of social media and websites. It’s highly distracting. But in her book, Wolf thinks that possibly a biliterate brain is the next step of adaptation for young humans, who could develop different modes of reading thanks to being expert code switchers. She also recommends that early education continue to focus on print material, then adding digital devices overtime.

Now, Wolf also calls for teachers to be better trained to use technology in their classrooms, in order not to perpetuate inequalities of all kinds. As well as this, merely handing out iPads won’t teach children how to read or even manage their time well. She worries that we may also lack the “cognitive patience” necessary to make the right inference and interpretation of texts. She is absolutely right about something: we do have a lot to lose if we don’t pay attention to what we’re doing with technology.

Funnily enough, guess what media I have used to read this book? You’re right! My kindle has been a great companion since before I can even remember. I can notice that my reading skills are not the same as when I was younger, but also I am torn between the distractions of a digital device and the prices of the books, which are highly competitive. I honestly don’t have a magic recipe to eliminate distractions, but what has been working is to turn off the internet connection and persistence. And you? Do you agree with this? How have you been dealing with the distractions of a digital world?

39-year-old teacher at Cultura Inglesa with experience in working with Young learners, teenagers and adults. A CELTA and ICELT holder, with a passion for Continuous Professional Development. I have presented in important Conferences such as BrazTesol and IATEFL and I am a true believer of education as a means to making the world a better place.

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