Rhona Canoy .
SO… For a country that prides itself in having a high percentage of literacy, we are a people of noneaders. Before you raise your voices in protest, figure out what I’m trying to say. Before you tell me to take back my words, figure out if you know the difference between knowing how to read and knowing why you read. It’s true. And I’m appreciative of how hopeful our bookstores are since I often wonder if they make enough money to stay in business.
Parents spend an inordinate amount of time aggressively harassing their children’s teachers looking for better grades. Demanding should be the more accurate way to say it. Yes, they also spend inordinate amounts of time making sure that their children’s projects are A-worthy by making it themselves. You have no idea how many projects I have seen which are expertly engineered by eight-year-olds who apparently have the technical knowledge of a forty-year-old. Parents also spend an inordinate amount of time making sure their children get culturally confused, making them speak predominantly in English in order to earn bragging rights about how proficient their children are in a colonial language. Of course, these selfsame parents don’t know how fluent their children really are in Visayan, considering that they spend more time with their yayas or friends who speak it.
Which leads me to the next dot on my brain map. All that inordinateness being spent on making sure children are “educated” doesn’t seem to be having much impact on what education is supposed to do. I mean we are told over and over again that education is the way out of this quagmire we call hard life. It is the sharpest tool in the success toolshed (according to). It is the magic wand that will make all one’s dreams become reality (according to). So we have a whole bunch of young people who know how to read and write. Actually, not as well as they should, but they can claim literacy.
Which leads me to the next dot on my brain map. If we have all these people who know how to read, why don’t they do it? I mean read so that their stock knowledge can get built up with worthy things. Honestly. How many of you who are reading this have read a good book in the last year? Actually, how many of you who are reading this are only doing so because you’re trying to entertain yourselves while waiting for your doctor’s appointment or a friend’s arrival delayed by their inability to be punctual? How many of you even bother to read the instruction manual that comes with your gadgets or appliances—my technological bibles, come to think of it.
Reading is not just escaping your drudgery. Reading allows you to live much more than the life you have been dealt. It allows you to know experiences which you may not otherwise have the privilege of experiencing. It allows you to know how other people think (not necessarily to agree with). It allows you to know what other people know. For what is the point of reading if it’s not put to good use? There is a statistic somewhere that says less than thirty percent of people who finish school will ever read another book for as long as they live. That’s a depressing statistic.
Think of all the wonderful things reading teaches you if you let it. Problem-solving. Critical thinking. Creativity and imagination. More information than you could possibly use in your lifetime. Expanding your brain capacity. Reading. That simple act of ingesting words from an outside source (I prefer from paper than from electronics). But here’s what’s happening.
Yes, people read. They avidly read social media posts and links. Blindly. They gullibly believe everything they read if it liners up with what they believe. They will react to status posts—albeit blindly. That’s not reading. Get real. That’s like the difference between gossiping and having a cerebral discussion. I think that’s my addition to my wish list. That people educate themselves. I mean, after all, we’re already literate. Learn the distinction between the two. Just because you can read doesn’t mean that you do. And just because you think you read doesn’t mean that you use the knowledge gained.
Talking about social media, I’m very rudely opinionated about the quality of people’s reading and thinking skills because social media affords me a very comfortable front seat to the stupidity. Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge your right to post whatever you like and believe whatever you like. So please acknowledge my right to laugh with unlimited sarcasm at the stupidity that you allow to float my way. It is social media after all. I’m also learning that (with apologies to Cong who defends his right, maybe wrongly) it might be your social media wall, but social media is a public arena and anyone can piss on your FB wall, just as anyone can piss on your property wall (mostly men). Don’t get upset by the posts, that’s just the bait. Take the time to read the comments section. That’s the real comedy central. Amazing how people who so staunchly defend their cara or public face will allow the fullest extent of their stupidity to be exposed on social media.
What are we teaching our children, those who are to follow? I often used to wonder why it seems everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Until I realized the young people of today lack the interest to widen their scope of the world and of life, which can only be done by reading. All the knowledge and experience of those who have come before are sadly on their way to the trashheap we call history. Just because you can Google it doesn’t mean that you know enough about it. Information must be ingested, savored, analyzed, chewed thoroughly, digested before it can be of any use to you. If our reading intake were as voracious as our pork intake, this would be a better world. Still unhealthy, but better.
Science tells us that our brain is a muscle. Lift weights. Read something worthwhile.