Why teaching reading is more important than ever
![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/45b81309-6a3f-48b6-905b-9e8479b199af/85be062d-252b-4884-b225-a0ed404b4961Readingwlogo.jpg "Reading") The day-to-day pressures of teaching can make the importance of the job fade into existence. But teaching reading is one of the most important jobs in society today. It’s a big claim, but warranted. Here’s why… ### Fake news The digital revolution has caused us as readers to consume huge volumes of information and at a quick pace. The internet has opened up a world of connectivity - to the good and the bad. Because of the sheer volume of information, we are much more likely to read the very surface level of what is presented, “...“skimming” is the new normal in our digital reading.” ([Maryanne Wolf in Reader, Come Home, 2019](https://www.maryannewolf.com/reader-come-home-1)) That means we are spending a lot less time analysing journalism and blogs for the truth. If we want the next generation of readers to question what they read, to investigate the nuances of falsehood that lurk in the media, we must prioritise the deep reading skills students get from English and literacy lessons. ### Social media Love it or loathe it, social media is here to stay and young people definitely love it. There has been a lot of research into the effects of social media, even though the platform itself is still in its relative infancy. [It is possible to be addicted to social media and our phones](https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/brain-wise/201209/why-were-all-addicted-texts-twitter-and-google) due to the dopamine release we experience upon getting notifications. In addition, [social media is having an impact on young people’s mental health](https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jan/15/impact-social-media-children-mental-health) whether that is down to young people comparing themselves to others or from cyber bullying activities that are prevalent online due to the anonymous nature of social media and chat sites. Traditionally, these kinds of issues are ‘dealt with’ in PSHE lessons. But is it possible that teachers who teach reading skills could also help? Is there a way to consume social media whilst also employing deep reading skills to generate a social resilience? Similarly to ‘fake news’, what is posted on social media is steeped in falsehood. Deep reading skills could be the answer to the depression that develops in young people (and adults) as a result of social media. ### The reading brain The reading brain is the subject of an in-depth exploration of how the digital world has affected it in Maryanne Wolf’s book, Reader, Come Home. In her series of letters to the reader, she explains her many concerns about the effects of the digital world on the brain. She questions, “Will our quality of attention in reading - the basis of the quality of our thought - change inexorably as our culture transitions away from a print-based culture toward a digital one?” If Wolf’s concerns are to be a reality, the teaching of deep reading becomes imperative. ### Combating a passive absorption The digital revolution is happening; we are in it. There is no fighting against such a revolution. But we can prepare young people for the effects of such a revolution. In English lessons, students are taught to read for meaning. They are taught to empathise with characters and authors. They are taught to consider word choice and how that influences the reading of a piece. They are taught to question the validity of what they read; how language manipulates and evokes emotion. The teaching of reading combats the passive absorption of information that the digital revolution is incurring. Teaching reading allows for individuals to make choices and educated judgements on what they're reading: a very worthy cause.