Given that this is Super Bowl Sunday, I imagine that most people will not read any of this until later this week. As a result, this week’s selections are in the quick-read style with everything coming in around 10 minutes or less. It is a mixed bag of works with a loose theme of reading if you extend the definition to beyond simply printed text, which is a much more modern notion anyway. So, in a very meta way, enjoy reading about reading.
This week’s “If you read only one article…” is the last one. It may be because I have been engaged in a deeper dive into the topics raised in the piece, but it also serves as great reminder that the way we things are might not necessarily be the way they always were or will be. It also resonates with me because I have been deeply suspicious of the concept of social Darwinism ever since I encountered it as a high schooler. It has just never sat well with me.
Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.
Inside the Podcast Brain: Why Do Audio Stories Captivate? – The Atlantic – Tiffanie Wen (5-minute read)
I have been hooked on the podcast thing almost as long as they have been around and it did kind of accelerate in the last few years with the podcast proliferation that really kicked off as mobile phones became pervasive. I listen to a handful of podcasts regularly but follow far more than I can possibly listen to in any given week, especially as I still like terrestrial radio quite a bit too. What is neat about this article is that it gets at some of why audio is so appealing. As a lot of radio people say ironically, “Radio is a very visual medium.”
I love the description of “transporting into a story as a ‘neuro ballet.'” As someone who has always enjoyed old-time radio serials, I have always wondered why there has not been much interest in radio dramas in the States, like the kind that the BBC regularly produces. Podcasts can certainly cater to those interests. However, non-fiction storytelling seems to be where podcasts have really taken off. There are so many good ones in that spae too. I also love the idea that audiobooks might soon be given more dramatic treatments.
Chances are if you are reading this newsletter, you are an avid reader in some way or another. Whether it is reading analog or digital media may not make much a difference to you. Given that nearly everyone reading this is of an age that grew up prior to the real digital reading divide that we find ourselves in since the leaps in mobile device development, chances are books still hold some genuine power over us. I know it certainly is the case for me and I have no shortage of digital devices on which I read too.
Yet, I found this piece by Carol Jago really inspiring. There are so many things I appreciate from the Maryanne Wolf references to the recognition that devices are never going to disappear. It is a smart piece, taking a look at what matters more when it comes to reading and what teachers can do to help cultivate some of our students into life-long readers. Some of the ideas are great and I fully expect I will try some of them in the near future. It has already given me some motivation to take a long look at my classroom library and tidy it up to make it a bit more inviting. Plus, the tips here any teacher in any subject could potentially do to some extent.
Also, I am curious about the reference to Wolf’s biliterate reading brain, especially after a former colleague and reader of this newsletter recently forwarded me this article about Wolf’s idea and current offering, Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. It also includes thoughts from the ubiquitous Daniel Willingham who always prompts more feelings of ambivalence but it is still a really good introduction to the concept of biliterate reading.
What if Competition Isn’t As “Natural” As We Think? – Slate – John Favini (8-minute read)
I have been having an ongoing conversation with a colleague about related matters to this article recently, so this article immediately caught my eye. I am really grateful to have the kinds of conversations we have had, as they force me to seriously interrogate some of these ideas and my own thoughts about them. The central question in this piece gets at least part of the heart of our discussions. The idea that humans might not be quite as competitive as we might believe is something I have devoted a lot of thought to in recent months, making me feel a bit like this article may have found me more than I found it.
That is one of the interesting subtextual wrinkles included in this piece. We, humans, tend to find what we are looking for. It is incredibly hard to remove ourselves from our culture, influences, and prevailing notions of our time. As Favini explains this was the case for Charles Darwin too, not to mention others who twisted his ideas into a social context. He goes further to highlight a lot of legitimate theory and research that undermines some of those notions. Perhaps most important is the lesson advanced here, “we must learn to recognize the impulse to naturalize a given human behavior as a political maneuver.”