I spent one evening with a bunch of teachers from different nationalities; they all have training from their respective countries and work with different age-groups, from pre-schoolers to graduates. They were involved in a heated argument about reading and information gathering and all agreed that kids tend to read less and search less for information; internet and google is the name of the game.
This is true more or less all over the world; people read less, watching movies instead. On gathering information we make do with snippets from wikipedia or google without really going for a deeper understanding of our research. Years ago, in Sweden, the tax was reduced on literature in an attempt to encourage reading. I don’t know how much it actually changed anything.
Recently I mentored an intelligent and curious young man. He spent too much time on his computer so I gave him a book to read, believing he would enjoy it. He never started it, he couldn’t get past the first few pages. He told me it took too much concentration and too much time. Seeing as he was quick of thought and had an extraordinary speed in which he would assimilate any information, this surprised me and I worked on figuring out where the problem lay. This is what I found:
This young man is a perfect example of most kids today (and a lot of adults), so used to mindless information and pictures that their inherent ability to create inner visualisation is impaired (or asleep?). This boy decided that it took too much time and energy to access his “inner movie” while reading so he would rather watch a movie where the pictures were shown to him. Finally I got him to read a short story (took longer than it should) but he did find his “inner movie” and enjoyed it immensely.
We read with our inner vision – the words in a book transform to a movie in our head, complete with emotions, colors and details. Our brain is absolutely magnificent in this area. We don’t “see” words, we see the meaning of them. A movie is somebody else’s pictures lasting about 90 min (mindless intake), a book takes longer because the mind is constantly creating, but the pictures are ours. Visualisation is one of our most important creative tools and it is an intensely important part of mental training.
I am not chucking movies, I love watching movies. But compared to a book it is nothing. Read a book, listen to a story and you will find the most amazing and detailed movie right in your own head…and it’s effortless (except for the reading part).