Why Facebook generation is falling behind in reading

October 30, 2016

Contador Harrison was born in 20th century and grew up when Walkman was the best option to listen to music while on the move.Back then, new music was only available on MTV and radio stations.Without the two, I wouldn’t have been a fan of Kurt Cobain’s of this world.My generation was displaced by the Facebook Generation.The Facebook Generation is considered to be 10 year olds who are continuing to fall behind in literacy, according to latest figures in my possession.The solutions devised by current generation of parents have been useless to start with.First some of them decided that naming and shaming schools online might do the trick.This has the same logic as saying to a child who is struggling with maths, we’ll publicly label you with a low numeracy level and see if that makes you pull up your socks and start doing well.Had a chance to interact with a 10 year old boy who didn’t know what would solve his struggle with comprehending inferential meaning in complex texts. Surely only a dimwit could see the logic in that.Throwing solutions that fail to understand the problem is the greatest challenge. In African countries, the problem is education system is producing language impoverished children.Students reach the middle years of high school with poor vocabularies and unable to work with language in sophisticated ways. In short, they write like they speak.For example in Kenya, an adulterated version of Swahili language called Sheng’ is commonly referred to as one of the biggest challenge facing urban youths who can hardly write or speak eloquently in either Swahili or English.Show me a failing primary school student and I’ll show you a pupil who hasn’t understood the difference between spoken and written language.Writing is not just speaking written down, unless you are direct messaging someone on.Me think that regions like Africa need to improve the reading and writing skills of 10 year olds and can do that by improving their literary diet in elementary school.Also,it would be good to keep nourishing them all through high school.Many families are paying the price for the banal levelled reading programs they feed their children in elementary school.Parents are teaching children to read on Tablets and Computers.These easy and predictable texts with their controlled grammar and vocabulary essentially starve children of the skills they need to do the authentic reading required of real life, and expected of them once they get into high school. Thats why they reach high school malnourished, unable to deal with the literate language they encounter.This affects their writing skills too, because reading is the key to good writing.

Ask me on that and I will tell you, without reading, you will never be a good writer.If parents want 10 year olds to write a considered and convincing argument in future, then they must be reading exemplary arguments.If parents want them to write an evocative and engaging narrative then they must be reading great narratives.The narratives and persuasive texts of the reading schemes that dominate classrooms are neither great nor exemplary.Learning to read, and reading to learn.Just like it was with my upbringing, reading and writing is done in the younger years. Parents of today teach kids simple decoding in the first years of school and somehow think they have inoculated them against literacy failure for the rest of their lives. That is clearly not the case.The connection between early reading success and later reading success declines as schooling goes on.Reading as a 10 year old is not the same as reading in high school. Language becomes more complex and more abstract as children progress through school.Those who are weak readers, who had met their primary school because they had decoded their way successfully through the levelled readers of elementary school cannot cope. Now that 10 year olds are expected to read to learn, and they don’t have the rich repertoire of language to draw upon to do this successfully. As a consequence they avoid reading and writing. The more they avoid, they less successful they become.Learning to read, in itself, is not sufficient preparation for reading to learn.Kids require reading and writing instruction through all their years of schooling. Since the language also becomes very specific to disciplines as kids move through school, it is the high school subject tutors who must teach how reading and writing works in their discipline.To write well, you need to have something to write about ranging from experiences, interactions, opinions, knowledge among others.For me to be able to write like I do, I have to know my topic well enough to argue a point, or build a plausible view for a reader to inhabit. I also need the language skills to convey those messages and to be able to select from a broad and diverse vocabulary.To read well, I do put my life experiences to bring my understanding of the text.Complex grasp of grammar and a rich vocabulary helps me in comprehending the author’s intent.These skills have not achieved through a set of writing templates.Instead it was the classrooms discussion, inquiry and experiences that gave me the foundation. In conclusion, Facebook Generation should be reading real books, and being shown how language is working in those books to beguile, persuade, entertain and inform, and also taught to use those same tools in their own writing.Failure to do so as a parent or teacher, will increase the likelihood that such a kid will be a failure in their life.

Contador Harrison