I Lost Myself In TechnoSpace vs. You Can’t Click a Book

12 Sep

I just finished reading Maus I & Maus II by Art Spiegelman.

As you notice from the covers, the books deal with the Holocaust. They’re graphic novels.

One of the concerns of education is getting kids to read – a popular argument states that in the faster-paced, technological world, kids have a hard time focusing long enough to get into a book. Entertainment is changing. A friend recently told me that the website StumbleUpon was recently likened to channel surfing. Because of the huge access to many links within one person’s interest area, a StumbleUpon user spends less time viewing a single website than the average Internet user. This guy claims that the average StumbleUpon user spends only 5-10 seconds on each website. That’s a lot of media, a lot of clicking, an OVERWHELMING amount of stimulus and little absorption of information.

How can the analog world compete?

Books are cumbersome. They take up physical space. AND YOU CAN LOSE THEM. They don’t have hyperlinks (even those are becoming too time-consuming) and when you flip the page, nothing pops up. And the words are static. No flashes, no bells and whistles, nothing.

I have a few solutions.

1. SING the words!  Put it to a popular tune and Sing Yourself because the good Lord knows no one else will. Good ol’ Vergil once said not to consign your words to leaves, but to sing them in your own voice and the stalwart Hildegard von Bingen rang out, “The words are the body. The music is the soul,” so burnish those rusty pipes and let loose into the world! You students will have proof that you’re crazy, but the mad always draw our attention, no?

2. Let them slam the book onto the desk once they finish it. Really. I had a professor in college do this after we finished the Iliad. It was the only book we read all semester. And guess what? Slamming that book felt gooooooooooooooooooooooooood after reaching 24 massive books only to find out the surprise ending with the Trojan Horse (i.e. Hollywood lies!).

3. DON’T try to convince them that books are better than any “fast moving, new age, newfangled piece of machinery!” A) they won’t believe you and B) they’ll want to prove you wrong and therefore not read to spite you. Just help them to realize that books are worth it. Slowly and surely. Just like the old days. Remind them of that proverbial tortoise.

4. Let them get fired up about what they hate about books. Yeah. That’s right. Let it all out. I won’t be defensive or angry. I’ll just hold it all close, even though it hurts. Then, when there’s nothing more to complain about and you start feeling comfortable, I’ll sing to you. That’s right. It’ll be like soothing a fussy baby or an overemotional child at a birthday party.

Fussy Baby.

5. Use graphic novels! I never before read Maus because, like AN OLD FOGY, I doubted the graphic novel. Make them open up the graphic novel IN CLASS. Read the first page. Heavy content, agreeable medium.

6. Deal with the heavy content. Just do it. And be clever.

And did I mention linking all the ancient with the pop-culture relevant? (Jurassic Park still counts as fairly modern, right?)


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