Book is the New Work

Click over to your favorite blog, and pick out the 4th and 14th words (that aren’t “the” or “an”). Drop them into this phrase:
“_____ is the new _____.”

My family never had cable and by time I was in 8th grade we didn’t even have a tv anymore. So I grew up on books and I loved them. I had read every fantasy, sci-fi and interesting young adult book at the small library near my house a million times when I went off to college.

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But once I got to university, I stopped reading. I don’t like to admit it, but I haven’t read a book all the way through in a long time. It’s hard mixing pleasure reading with academic reading. It might have to do with the fact that I don’t like a lot of academic readings–big words and haughty tones aren’t really my thing and in order to succeed in my classes, I don’t have to read these texts all the way through, I just skim them.

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We watched a TED Talk in my education class called Changing Education Paradigms, which was based on the talk by Ken Robinson, which discussed problems with our education system. One of these is the distinguishing between academic people and non-academic people, the former considered smart and the latter non-smart.

One of the reasons I think reading for class is such a burden is because the texts we read are often written by academics who insist on showing off their “smartness” through word choice and confusing sentence structure. Now, I’m an English major and I’ve made it to my junior year of college so according to society I am smart. But these texts we read make me feel like I’m back in fifth grade struggling to understand the basics of math! There should not be such a decisive divide between different types of “smartness”–those who excel at math and science are just as smart as those who excel at drama and art. I do not want the things I’m reading for school, that are supposed to help me learn, to make me feel stupid instead.

Students do need to be challenged, but confidence in one’s abilities is just as important. I don’t want to approach learning with the attitude that because I don’t know something I’m not as smart as my peers or that not understanding “academic works” makes me somehow lesser. I want to get excited when I learn new things because learning is enjoyable and I want to be respected for the things I do know, be it art, poetry, or any of the liberal arts.

Do you think there is a real divide between “academics” and “non-academics”? If there is, should there be?

I highly advise watching Robinson’s talk, it makes some great points about the American school system and offers some interesting ideas for future changes.

What do you think about divergent thinking? Could we incorporate that into our school system today, or is divergent thinking too different from the intellectual model of the mind on which we currently base our school system?

I want to know what you think–leave your ideas in the comment section!

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