While making the 30 minute drive from the grocery store to home, I landed on our local NPR station. A young man was discussing a time he was a prisoner in solitary confinement; he was only 16 years old at the time. Though the system denied him any leisure reading, a fellow inmate discreetly slid a book of poetry under the door. From the sound of the program, verse changed his life. He claimed he had never before been exposed to relatable literature.
At that moment, my inner cynic showed up. “Surely he had a public library or school library where he grew up.” But then I realized, perhaps he had never been bored enough to read.
For some, it seems reading is synonymous to nourishment. This kind of person cannot survive without a daily dose of literature. From my experience, most of these folks were raised in a home that emphasized the importance of reading, they saw their parents reading, and ate dinner with a dictionary at the table. But for the rest of population, reading is simply something to do. And with all the external stimuli, who has time to invest in reading?
Through our hand-held technologies and other electronic devices, we are constantly stimulated. Though we may pride ourselves on our multi-tasking skills, it turns out the very notion of multi-tasking is a lie; we’re simply switching from one task to another. And our brains are busy and full. Where is the wonder? We are too busy to learn.
The young prisoner literally had nothing to do in solitary confinement. Unable to check his phone for the latest text or refresh his email inbox. He was desperate. He had the time and space to be desperate. Are we desperate to learn? Can we quiet our brains to be immersed in a book? Do we seek out wonder, abandoning our appetite to be networked?
Response: What can we do to promote a healthy relationship with technology in our students?