Reading is such an understated skill

Watching TV last night and we stumbled across That'll Teach 'Em programme which I have to put my hand up and admit is CRAP! But, there was nothing else on and Liz only had 30 minutes of up time left in her before abandoning me to the Hurricanes v Brumbies.

If you're not familiar with the programme let me explain.

Take some UK school kids on their summer hols (I assume), pretend it's 1960-something, add a bunch of stereotypical teachers (think Bash Street Kids) and film the fun that ensues. Oh, it's "reality TV" in all its glory i.e., does not contain reality.

One of the segments last night was highlighting how far standards have slipped since the good-old-days, because that's what this programme is really all about isn't it - let's see how good it was "back then" and then complain about how it's changed and not so good anymore. I suspect the people making this programme went to school "back then" and, like most, have quite a sepia view of their own school days, I know I do.

You can imagine the lines the narrator/commentator/presenter was coming out with ... I hope you can imagine them as I can't recall any at the moment [*blush]. Among phrases used were "back then", "lots more exercise", "good for them", "reading was compulsory", "shock for the modern pupil", "not used to ...", "before computers", "no spell checkers".

The segment in question was set in the English class with a witch of a teacher who was berating the class for not being able to spell words she conjured up.

I wasn't really listening.

In fact, I was trying to shut the whole thing out of mind and concentrate on the book I was reading.

Until the 'expert' commentator said something like, "Children in the sixties read so much more than the kids of today. They read for leisure and whilst they did they learnt new words." Implication - todays kids are dumb.

And then I went off. I couldn't control it. It was a rant. At Liz who was, to be fair, wanting me to shut up after the first syllable.

So I stopped and let it stew within me knowing I had a 3 hour window on the PC tomorrow afternoon after the trip into Te Papa and around the waterfront.

I find it so hard to listen to people when they compare kids of today and yesteryear in such a Noddy/ pander-to-the-masses manner.

Yes reading is a skill that isn't really much talked about/written about/taught constantly now-a-days. But, reading happens all the time, everywhere from your teenager to your grandads. In fact, I suspect the kids of today are dealing with more words, in far more complex situations, than ever before.

They not only have more words in their life they also manage to fit this reading in amongst playing computer games, TV, homework (probably reading), sports, chores ... life is busy for our kids.

If you don't believe me then you tell me who's buying all those books in the large Kids/Teenager/Young Adult section of Dymocks?

What about the success of Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl. They're not being read exclusively by the over 21's.

I'm sure there's kids that don't read and there are young adults that are having problems in life because they didn't get the grounding in reading they should have. No change there from any country in any decade/century you'd care to mention.

I also believe that the kids of today communicate much more and that's what it's all about.

As well as hanging out together like every bunch of kids ever has the modern kiddie-winkle also uses IM, txt, email and the Web. All these are written word requiring the ability to read.

Oh, and when I say they communicate more I'm not talking about the quality of the communication as that's an old-man judgment thing. I'm sure they still talk bollocks, they think every word is changing the world and only they have thought about things 'that way'.

Just like I did.

And that's what it's all about, communication. As long as Jack gets his meaning over to me then I don't care if it's spelt correctly, comes via a blog or even just a grunt. Just ensure communication happens.


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