Fast reading / Slow reading

The author of this article, an English professor, sees a difference between reading a computer screen and reading a printed page. Screen reading is a kind of literacy, “but it breaks down in the face of a dense argument, a Modernist poem, a long political tract, and other texts that require steady focus and linear attention — in a word, slow reading. Fast scanning doesn’t foster flexible minds that can adapt to all kinds of texts, and it doesn’t translate into academic reading.”

The students in his literature classes struggle with “slow reading” tasks. Not long ago he assigned them to memorize 20 lines of verse and recite them to their classmates at the next meeting. A student asked, “Why?” “She judged the plodding process of recording others’ words a primitive exercise. Besides, if you can call up the verse any time with a click, why remember it? Last year when I required students in a literature survey course to obtain obituaries of famous writers without using the Internet, they stared in confusion. Checking a reference book, asking a librarian, and finding a microfiche didn’t occur to them. So many free deliveries through the screen had sapped that initiative.”


I don't really see the point of requiring students to look up an obituary without using the Internet, except that the teacher is a Luddite. If it's an exercise in learning other ways to find information in case they're ever stumped online, he should say so and give suggestions up front.

And what if it's an exercise in creative thinking? This seems like a fairly standard way of getting students to think outside the box.

"If it's an exercise in learning other ways to find information in case they're ever stumped online, he should say so and give suggestions up front"--If it's an exercise in learning, where is the learning if the teacher gives them the answers? What if the students were asked to find obituaries for relatives? I doubt many would find those online. Also what about obituaries only listed in small town newspapers? Those wouldn't be online; they would either be in back issues or on microfilm.

Not everything is online and not everything will be online. And certain things online are only online for a fee. Not everything is easily accessible on the internet. That is not being a Luddite; that is stating a fact.

Interviewer: What skills do you have?

Applicant: I can look up obituaries offline.

Interviewer: Wow, what a thoroughly useless skill. Why don't you just look on the Interwebs?

Applicant: Because not everything is on the Interwebs.

Interviewer: Everything important is.

I truly hope this was meant to be sarcastic.

In my particular job, being extremely resourceful and knowing several different methods of finding information is a must-have skill. I work reference in a public library. I help the high school kids with the Reader's Guide to Periodic Literature as well as EBSCO; their teacher requires them to use both methods, so it helps for me to know both methods as well. For the genealogists that frequent our library, I know how to use a microfilm and a microfiche machine. Since our local newspaper office doesn't keep back issues, the library does. When our state gets them put onto microfilm, we get rid of the paper issues because we do have limited physical space. The newspaper does not have archives online, not even for a subscripton. Try telling a genealogist that anything that's not online isn't important. I'd love to see their reaction to that! We even still use outdated technology such as a fax machine or a photocopier. Boy we should just scan everything and email it. Wait, what would we do to help the patrons that still don't know how to use a computer, much less have an email account? Oh how am I kidding, there are no people out there like that! (sarcasm)

I don't understand the misconception that if I suggest that something can be done without using the internet, I must hate technology or fear change. I prefer to know how to do things whenever our internet server is down, which happens more than one would think. It's called being flexible.