This weekend The Washington Post published an essay by Howard Gardner posing the question:
"What will happen to reading and writing in our time?
Could the doomsayers be right? Computers, they maintain, are destroying literacy. The signs -- students' declining reading scores, the drop in leisure reading to just minutes a week, the fact that half the adult population reads no books in a year -- are all pointing to the day when a literate American culture becomes a distant memory. By contract, optimists foresee the Internet ushering in a new, vibrant participatory culture of words. Will they carry the day?
Maybe neither. Let me suggest a third possibility: Literacy -- or an ensemble of literacies -- will continue to thrive, but in forms and formats we can't yet envision."Mr. Gardner's essay is well worth reading, but how long it has been since he has spent any time in public elementary or secondary schools? A challenge for Mr. Gardner-- spend a month working with young people in Worcester, Massachusetts, or in East Cleveland, Ohio, or even any middle class/working class neighborhood public school across the country to see where our nation truly is concerning reading, writing, and education-- to see the state of actual school buildings, school libraries, and public libraries in many parts of our nation. Have a conversation with a real group of kids, ask them what they read, how much they read, when they read anything at all. And then see if he would draw the same conclusions.
Read Mr. Gardner's essay at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021502898.html?hpid=opinionsbox1