In our world of screen technology, retired educator, Susan Harris, notes how reading books helps us "develop a more reflective and deeper understanding of life".
A recent article in the magazine section of the Weekend Australian, February 5-6, 2022, titled ‘Book Smart’ highlighted the issue of how we read in this technological age.
The author, Johann Hari has written a book, ‘Stolen Focus - Why You Can’t Pay Attention’ (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022). Basically, his research found out that there is an inability to ‘pay attention and focus…. The proportion of Americans who read books for pleasure is now at its lowest level ever recorded.’ (p25)
As a retired educator I am very interested in this. It is a challenging time as we regularly engage on our screens each day. Research has shown that reading from screens does not provide deep understanding as we ‘scan and skip’.
‘People understand and remember less of what they absorb on screens.’ (p26). So, what does that mean for those, especially students, wanting to understand a particular narrative or science principle or complex causes of World War 1? Reading about it in a book can be more helpful for long term understanding. Books can assist in deeper understanding and be supplemented by other types of sources.
My education experience tells me that a book must still have an important place in learning. Pick up a book today. Model reading. Read to young children around you, encourage a love of books. It will develop a more reflective and deeper understanding of life.
As the author, Johann Hari writes, ‘we are currently on course to lose the ability to read deeply’ and the answer is to read books.
Apply this to your Bible reading: we are encouraged to reflect on the word of God. For example, Hebrews 4 verse 12:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
A digital copy tempts us to skip and scan. Instead, pick up a hard copy of the written word and read deeply!
Susan Harris is now retired from the education profession. She has enjoyed a productive and fulfilling working life in schools, while also enjoying a loving home life with husband Roger and, together, parenting 3 daughters. Susan is now Nanna to 8 grandchildren. One of Susan’s loves has always been reading. Retirement has allowed more time and she has joined a Book Club. She also volunteers at Engage Work Faith and is a member of Rotary. Reading allows her to experience worlds beyond her own. Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: “We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.”
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