"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, November 04, 2011

The power of reading and the role of school

Sent to the Taipei Times, November 3, 2011

Lii Ding-tzann (“Reading your way to true wisdom,” Nov. 3) argues that reading in a way that connects to your own life makes a powerful contribution to our intellectual development. Research strongly supports his position: Studies show that wide, self-selected reading is related to our literacy development, our knowledge of the world, and achievement: People who read more read and write better, know more, and accomplish more in life.

Creativity researcher Dean Keith Simonton has concluded that "omnivorous reading in childhood and adolescence correlates positively with ultimate adult success.” Strong evidence comes from cases of highly successful well-read individuals with little formal education: Famous examples include Thomas Edison, who profited from reading books in his father's home library as well as the Detroit public library, and Michael Faraday, who had the good luck to work for a bookbinder, and became an enthusiastic reader.

School can either encourage or discourage the development of a reading habit. The over-emphasis on testing, a disease that seems to spreading world-wide, inhibits intellectual development by not allowing time or opportunity for students to develop their own interests by reading widely. But school could help students by exposing them to many different ideas, allowing them time to explore their interests, and by providing access to a print-rich environment.

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus

University of Southern California

Original article: Reading your way to true wisdom


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