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reading and the internet

northern wisconsin provides excellent opportunities for unplugging from the internet, resting and relaxing. even though, the internet is only a few houses away. high speed internet is spreading it’s tentacles wide and far, so that even outside of minocqua, wisconsin, on a small lake, high speed is available.

i drove from my parent’s cabin to my grandparent’s cabin with my laptop open, just to see how many networks I would come across. eight. this may not seem like a lot, but nearly everywhere on the two-mile trip there was a wifi signal poking out.

but, at our cabin, no high speed. i set out the week with the goal of reading four books. (finishing two that I had already started and then two more new ones.) there have been discussions at school about the effect of the internet on reading, about how reading on the internet does not provoke deep thought and reflection the way that a book does, and even reading in a house where the internet is available provides enough of a distraction that books are read in a way that is shallower than before the advent of internet.

there is a strange allure to having the internet available when reading a book. what’s this word mean? what’s this place look like (look it up on google maps)? who was that person? (look it up on wikipedia)?

well, i’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle. it’s probably an issue of self-control, of learning to engage with your mind in a world that provides distractions everywhere you look.

the real challenge I think is convincing young people to let go of the distractions and singularily focus on something. at the NECC conference, I sat at a roundtable discussion about multitasking and it’s effect on learning. i got into a heated discussion with the woman seated to my right. she was on the side of “kids live in multitasking world, and we need to teach to that” whereas my argument was “we need to teach them to think, and that comes from focus”

needless to say, we didn’t convince each other of anything.

as the youngest person at that table by a few years, it was odd to be arguing against the technology-aided multitasking world that we seem to be heading towards.

who knows? but last week at the cabin in the woods on the lake, i finished those four books.

Categories: Books, Random Thoughts.

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2 Responses

  1. I was a teacher for six years and I think it’s safe to say that children do not need us to teach them how to multitask. I love the internet, but I could never give up having a book in my hands. I suppose that’s why I have more books than bookshelves in my house.

  2. I admire the individual who can confidently and enthusiastically flit between both. Knowledge is power and there is much to be gained from all facets of this world. Trouble emerges when there is an absence of balance.

    Lopez7/24/2008 @ 9:28 pm

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