I’m, Like, Trying to Write, Okay?

LOLacademicat.JPGYou’ve probably all seen the New Yorker cartoon with Poe-on-Prozac remarking to a raven, “nice Birdie!” In the Chron of Higher Ed, Evan Eisenberg has a humorous riff in this direction, imagining how a 21st century Emily Dickinson might ditch poetry for blogging and social networking. Here’s a mash of entries:

How Boring Is Amherst?

Let me put it this way: On some days, the most exciting thing that happens is when a fly gets through the hole in the screen and starts buzzing around my room.

So I started writing a poem (yes a poem) with same rhythm as that Coke ad. I got as far as the first line —

We never know how high we are

which I thought was not too lame — for a poem, I mean — but then Suzy sent me this YouTube link where some dude catches sunglasses with his face — LOL, trust me — and then I started checking out some of the other clips, and by the time I got back to the poem I kind of forgot what the point was.

How can educators respond to the brave new world of millennials‘ multitasking?

Here’s some advice from Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, as related by Michael Dirda:

“Will unguided information lead to an illusion of knowledge, and thus curtail the more difficult, time-consuming, critical thought processes that lead to knowledge itself? Will the split-second immediacy of information gained from a search engine and the sheer volume of what is available derail the slower, more deliberative processes that deepen our understanding of complex concepts, of another’s inner thought processes, and of our own consciousness?”

Wolf never fully answers these questions, though they strike me as the basis for a much needed book. Still, like any parent with a child transfixed by flashing screens, she is troubled by what she observes. She urges that we “teach our children to be ‘bitextual’ ” or ‘multitextual,’ able to read and analyze texts flexibly in different ways” so that our sons and daughters don’t end up as mere “decoders of information,” distracted from the “deeper development of their intellectual potential.” Early on in Proust and the Squid, she had noted that infants and toddlers who aren’t told stories by their caregivers, who aren’t read to from a very early age, nearly always fail to learn to read well themselves. By implication, it may already be too late for many young people: They will never be able to read with the same thoughtfulness and comprehension as their parents.

Some sobering thoughts on the hidden effects of a technological society.

Photo Credit: Icanhascheezburger.com.

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