View Full Version : Reading

08-27-2013, 06:17 AM

As a lifelong reader this is distresing. Reading is one of the most fundamental skills - if you read you can self-educate in any field of study.

I have no recollection of not being able to read. My father would read me a bedtime story every night and had the habit of running his finger under the word as he spoke it. Somewhere along the line I associated the written symbol with the word. Pop would read the Newark Evening News every night after dinner and would give me the comic page so I could "read" the paper like daddy did. He assumed I was just looking at the pictures until one day when I was about 3 I asked him what an unfamiliar word meant. He then asked me to read the entire line and I did so. From then on I started to read my own bedtime stories with Pop helping me out with unfamiliar words.

When I started school this was brought to the attention to my teachers, who were delighted. My grade school was right around the corner from the public library Our class visited there once or twice a week and by the time I was in second grade I had a special library card that allowed me to check out any book on any subject, including books in the adult section.

I recall one time there was new librarian who refused to allow me to check out a book she thought was too advanced for me (I vaguely recall it was one of Roy Chapman Andrew's books on paleontology in China). I complained to my teacher about that and she, along with the school principal, had a rather firm discussion with the librarian that my library card meant exactly what it said. She never questioned my selections again.

It seems that times have changed. I can't imagine anything more detrimental to the educational process than the attitudes demonstrated in the article that provoked this post.

08-27-2013, 08:24 AM
I am grateful to my parents for what they passed on to me. Not for the material stuff, of which there wasn't a lot, but for a love of the printed word. My mother read to me every night, as far back as I can remember, and she also got me to reading with her and then to her. One of my earliest memories is running across the word 'telephone' in a story. Having been taught to sound out the words, I pronounced it 'tee-lee-phone,' and was corrected on the pronounciation. She also demanded I take Latin in high school, which I really didn't want to do. Of course, she was right, and to this day (I'll be 70 soon) the Latin background enhances my reading pleasure. My wife and I passed this on to our children. Our oldest son read Jonathon Livingston Seagull when he was 8 years old. When we quizzed him on what it meant, it was clear that he GOT IT. He wasn't just absorbing words, he was understanding the concepts. I can only say 'Thanks, Mom and Dad' to my parents.

08-27-2013, 11:14 AM
This change is perpetuated by an education system that believes it knows best about everything. I had to fight to get both my daughters the things they needed to get through the public schools system. One so advanced she rarely had to work to get an A and the the other one at the other end of the spectrum who struggled greatly with the way the material was presented. The system is too complex and over analyzed. Add to that some bad teachers, good teachers overworked and stifled and too much administration, it is a recipe of disaster. I am saddened but not surprised at the lack of reading or the lack of concern about it from the educational system. All part of the larger social problem of rising to the level of the average not to the level of the best. Today kids can't be allowed to fail at anything, ever, or their self-esteem will be damaged and they won't be able to move on in life. All kids should be taught reading, writing and math early and often. All kids should be encouraged to read anything they can early and often. Educational system rant over.

08-27-2013, 11:36 AM
Tom, I also studied high school Latin and that has allowed me to read, more or less, most of the European languages with Latin roots as well as understand how and why English is the way it is. I had to take 2 years of a non-English language and thought that Latin would be more useful than other languages I would probably never or rarely have any opportunity to use. I am not particularly gifted when it comes to language though I do pretty well in my native tongue.

Snakey, quite right. Reading, writing and mathematics are the fundamental building blocks of education. The math doesn't have to be overly advanced, arithmatic, algebra, trigonometry and geometry will do fine.

08-27-2013, 11:51 AM
"...the unrestrained imagination is not politically malleable." Classic. The school is, indeed, an Ideological State Apparatus...


And yes - there are so many stupid education theories that get applied as gospel; the teachers applying these theories don't read current journal articles once they leave school and hence have beliefs which have been thoroughly debunked. I still see people giving seminars on material that is more than 50 years old and complete bunk. I told the supervisor that we need jstor access; he did not even know what that was!

Remember, a B.Ed is about the easiest certification to get; the university text books for this degree are themselves written at about a grade 8 level - there is no way I could have studied that garbage and stay sane - nor any reason why I would pay someone for instruction on grade 8 level material.

I gave a logic test to a bunch of the B.Ed crowd at the school I work at and more than 70 percent failed - easy inferences too - one, two sentences (e.g., if it is raining then I will not go out; I did not go out, therefore [insert answer here]). The supervisor had 7/25 on this test (lower than some of the students)!

A woman hired to teach 'critical thinking' was completely dumbfounded by the following question (this is an example from the admission test for the university partnered with the school I work at - I was hired to teach the students logic (and, no, I don't have a B.Ed)):

"An animal is conscious only if it can feel pain. Animals do not feel pain. Therefore, animals are not conscious.

Is the above argument valid?"

Needless to say, the answer should be instantly seen by anyone literate, and faster than light by a teacher who claims to be able to teach critical thinking. Anyway, we sat in the supervisor's office watching her brain smoke out her ears for more than a few minutes until she got the answer wrong. Time for a reassignment indeed.

There are a great many people I would not let near my children.

Of course, there are a great many parents and other progressive activists who have an influence on the content and form of education which can limit some of the more interesting subjects - like politics and religion or force sheer stupidity. Take the fuss about evolution and creationism: I doubt I could keep a straight face to anyone who proposed I use this book:


Give this a watch and you'll see why state or public education is in such a shamble:



08-27-2013, 04:13 PM
MT: since you must inject your atheistic view in this you might find this article of interest.


The thesis can be summarized "It is my firm belief that the entire discussion between science and religion has been largely incorrect on both sides, as neither appear to realize the need of understanding the Bible and ancient Hebrew thought processes on its own terms, rather than those imposed onto the Bible from both scientists and religionists of our day."

I don't read or speak Hebrew, nor am I a scholar of the ancient Hebrew language. I understand, though, there are words in ancient Hebrew that can be translated/interpreted depending on the context as "year" or "month".

Much is made by non-believers of the unreasonably, perhaps even impossibly, old ages of those written about. In the illustration Noah's age in mentioned as 500 years. Unless there has been some remarkable changes in human bodies between then and now this seems unikely.

However, if the word used is translated as months then Noah's age becomes the more reasonable 60 years and Methusalah's 900 becomes 75 years certainly more plausible.

We have had lengthy discussions of the idea of a Creator vs. natural selection etc. so I won't rehash that here. Dismissing the possibility of creation because you haven't seen it lately is likely just as invalid as dismissing the concept of "zero" because you can't represent zero on the fingers.

08-27-2013, 04:55 PM
There is room for research into ancient languages and the subtle epistemologies of the scientist and the religious. Indeed, I have even argued that the proper Christian view is Darwinian and the 'unchanging forms' interpretation is pagan, namely, Platonic. But that is a different topic.

But, in that example I cited above, the school is giving students books, not printed using your reasonable view of biblical hermeneutics, but with the totally moronic view that Noah was in fact 500 years old! It is not presented as anything other than fact. Nor are there any quotes to support it all. Nor are there any quotes from Hebrew so that I could go and look up the meaning of the word. I accept what you say about translation having translated some Plato from ancient Greek for one of my books; but in the absence of a quote of the ancient language verbatim alongside the translation there is little chance that any scholar would accept that translation as authoritative.

That said, one would think that teachers would encourage students to read, especially books that are classical for their beauty or their political, moral and social commentary.

But - and here is the clash of politics, education and society - when one is faced with fanatics like those on the Texas board from that extreme end to more subtle versions on the ideological spectrum, it can be very dangerous to a teacher's livelihood to recommend those books that are considered dangerous or subversive: I can just imagine what would happen if a teacher recommended a student read Das Capital - it would likely get as nice a reception as a copy of Milton Friedmen's Democracy and Capitalism at a union rally or Dawkins' The God Delusion at a church social! That teacher would, I would think, be fighting for his or her job; and with bills to pay and families to feed, the radical and free thinking teachers are either fired or silenced or working in other fields. The state and the parents are often the biggest threat to the students' education, though many teachers in public schools for young people are themselves not very academic or well read (for emphasis is placed on B.Ed, and not an academic specialty).

Indeed - at my local library here in my small Ontario town someone defaced many of Bertrand Russell's books - removing many, ripping out pages, and scribbling over many of the more controversial passages.

There are a lot of social and political forces rallied against a person becoming well read - and it is only getting worse with all the political correctness required, electronic distractions and the pablum that shows up on t.v..


08-27-2013, 05:45 PM
In this age of the high-speed press book-burning is a fruitless endeavor. The publisher probably can't tell you within a thousand or more how many books were actually published. I'm biased, of course, but in my view vandals who damage libraries or deface books deserve a trip down the short rope. Those fools are trying to destroy ideas and possibly the intellect. (That is also one of the reasons I am unimpressed by radical Islam. It is amazing to me that while pre-Islamic Arabs invented a lot of mathematics, science and the whole idea of a university their descendants are trying to wipe it all out.)

The authors of the First Amendment believed, as I do, that the best way to demonstrate that a bad idea IS a bad idea is to have free examination and discussion. I was never particularly impressed by Bertrand Russell but that is because I read his books, some of them anyhow.

If some yahoo scribbles over some passage in a book my curiosity is tweaked and I have to wonder what he is trying to hide - and why?

08-28-2013, 12:19 AM
Here in my small town all of the schools have a "read 20 minutes a day" on their billboards. My wife has my girls read quite a bit and we do family math while we are out to dinner. It seems to help. Better than nothing.

08-28-2013, 08:47 AM
this thread has it all!!

reading is fun. however, i'm not gonna give subject you all to my "Reading resume"..hahah.

08-30-2013, 03:45 AM
Speaking of reading: I've seen this with the letters out of order, but this is the first time I've seen it with numbers. If you can read this OUT LOUD, you have a strong mind. And better than that: Alzheimer's is a long long, way down the road before it ever gets anywhere near you.

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.

If you can read this, you have a strange mind, too. Can you read this? Only 55 people out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.

08-30-2013, 05:22 AM
Thanks for that. I had a solid 20 seconds of fun as my eyes barely grazed the line before my brain understood it. It surprised me how easy it became towards the end.

08-30-2013, 11:22 AM
I didn't notice the words were messed up.

08-30-2013, 01:03 PM
I noticed, but reading them was quite effortless. The flip side is that this characteristic of mind is why many folks make poor proofreaders. The only reason I am a fairly good prooofreader is that I make an effort to do it - it's art of being an editor.

08-30-2013, 01:23 PM
I ran the cryptic message through a special de-coding program I built in a spreadsheet and it came up with the following: "This is a waste of time."

Just kidding. ;)