Thursday, March 31, 2011

Books, the Key to Imagination

Carol Jago’s 2010 NCTE Presidential Address: “To Cherish the Interests of Literature.”

Summary: Among other ideas, Carol Jago, president of the National Council of Teachers of English, suggests that technology is robbing students of imagination which is encouraged when children read. It was Joseph Conrad who defined his purpose for writing as “My task is by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.”

Some other quotes by Jago:

“Students already addicted to their hand-held devices may soon spend every waking minute plugged into some digital device.”

“Speaking in a commencement address to graduates of the Stanford School of Education, Elliot Eisner (CEO of Disney, 2006) argued that ‘imagination is the neglected stepchild of American education. Questions invite you in. They stimulate the production of possibilities…. And the best ones are those that tickle the intellect and resist resolution.’ ”

“Some argue that it doesn’t matter that students no longer have the patience for words on the page.”

“Are books the old order? Have they, like Camelot, run their course? Is it time teachers simply accepted that today’s students no longer have the time or patience to read anything more complex than a series of Tweets?”

“The economist Edward Castronovo reports that what we are seeing among the youth population is a mass exodus from the real world to virtual worlds” (McGonigal, 2010).

Comment: A timely address. The challenge is to bring back the book, bring back the imagination. Develop the time and patience to read. RayS.

Title: “To Cherish the Interests of Literature.” The 2010 NCTE Presidential Address. Research in the Teaching of English (February 2011), 337-343.

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