Saturday, January 29, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Our site has a twenty minute reading period built into the day. I am in the minority of teachers that enforce it. Despite the awesome staff at our school, many shrug and give into the resistance of the kids, letting them do their homework, flip though catalogs, socialize. I bully the kids into reading. And sometimes I win.
I remember one resistant reader, B., who picked up Monster by Walter Dean Myers and got hooked. "Miss M, can I take this home?" You think I'd say yes? No way! I knew that he would itch all day for reading time, sit quietly “in” the book, try to devour it as quickly as possible. (Plus I needed time to find another book to recommend to him when he finished!) Truth be told, he wasn't turned into a reader when he finished his book--but he was transformed from an anti-reader, and that's progress.
Another resistant reader, T. started reading The Hobbit because his uncle made him promise he would. I told him he had to give it fifty pages before judging it, that it might take him that long to”get into it.” One day as the bell rang he smiled, “It only took twenty pages.” But after several weeks I noticed that every day T. was still sitting with The Hobbit in his hands without reading it. Come to find out, he’d finished but didn’t want me to know because he thought he had just read The Only Good Book in the World. I was the lucky one who got to tell him there were three more books even better! “Is Bilbo in them?” Yes, I said, not as the main character, though. “Then I don’t want to read them.” Now THAT is love. Misled love, but T. had become emotionally involved with a character.
Of course I persuaded him to give Tolkien another shot, and when Peter Jackson’s first LOTR movie was released, I took a friend and met T. at a theater so we could enjoy it together. We both agreed that though we liked the movie, THE BOOK WAS BETTER.
Through the magic of books I have lived in Georgia with four Black women during the fifties (The Secret Life of Bees), turned into a dragon (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), been a misunderstood concierge for wealthy families in a Paris apartment building (The Elegance of the Hedgehog), dressed as a ham hock for an Alabama school play and escaped being killed (To Kill a Mockingbird), enjoyed bush tea with a "traditionally built" friend in Botswana (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency), lost my daddy to the Twin Towers on 9/11 (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), vetted all manner of livestock in Yorkshire (All Creatures Great and Small), survived hurricanes and escaped rabies in the Everglades (Their Eyes Were Watching God), been to Venus (Perelandra), escaped dire consequences of the Mexican Revolution (Rain of Gold), lived in the underground Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, resisting the Nazis (Mila 18), exercised my free will (East of Eden), been blind (Blindness), lived on a whaling ship disguised as a boy (Ahab's Wife), run through Paris sewers (Les Miserables)--
...and, while each of these books has wrung my heart, I am the happier for them.
Newswise — A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as very happy spend more time reading and socializing. The study appears in the December issue of the journal “Social Indicators Research.”
Analyzing 30-years worth of national data from time-use studies and a continuing series of social attitude surveys, the Maryland researchers report that spending time watching television may contribute to viewers’ happiness in the moment, with less positive effects in the long run.
“TV doesn’t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,” says University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson, the study co-author and a pioneer in time-use studies. “It’s more passive and may provide escape - especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.”
TV VIEWING DURING A FINANCIAL CRISIS
Based on data from time use surveys, Robinson projects that TV viewing might increase significantly as the economy worsens in the next few months and years.
“Through good and bad economic times, our diary studies, have consistently found that work is the major activity correlate of higher TV viewing hours,” Robinson says. “As people have progressively more time on their hands, viewing hours increase.”
But Robinson cautions that some of that extra time also might be spent sleeping. “As working and viewing hours increase, so do sleep hours,” he says. “Sleep could be the second major beneficiary of job loss or reduced working hours.”
STUDY FINDINGS AND DATA
In their new study, Robinson and his co-author, University of Maryland sociologist Steven Martin, set out to learn more about the activities that contributed to happiness in people’s lives. They analyzed two sets of data spanning nearly 30 years (1975-2006) gathered from nearly 30,000 adults:
- A series of time-use studies that asked people to fill out diaries for a 24-hour period and to indicate how pleasurable they found each activity;
- General Social Survey attitude studies, which Robinson calls the national premier source for monitoring changes in public attitudes – in-depth surveys that over the years consistently asked subjects how happy they feel, how they spend their time among a number of other questions.
UNHAPPY PEOPLE VIEW SIGNIFICANTLY MORE
Robinson and Martin found that the two sets of data largely coincided for most activities – with the exception of television.
From the General Social Survey, the researchers found that self-described happy people were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers. By contrast, unhappy people watched significantly more television in their spare time.
According to the study’s findings, unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people, after taking into account their education, income, age and marital status – as well as other demographic predictors of both viewing and happiness.
UNHAPPY PEOPLE ARE HAPPY WITH TV
Data from time-diaries told a somewhat different story. Responding in “real time,” much closer to daily events, survey respondents tended to rate television viewing more highly as a daily activity.
“What viewers seem to be saying is that ‘While TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, the shows I saw tonight were pretty good,’ ” Robinson says.
The data also suggested to Robinson and Martin that TV viewing was “easy.” Viewers don’t have to go anywhere, dress up, find company, plan ahead, expend energy, do any work or spend money in order to view. Combine these advantages with the immediate gratification offered by television, and you can understand why Americans spend more than half their free time as TV viewers, the researchers say.
Unhappy people were also more likely to feel they have unwanted extra time on their hands (51 percent) compared to very happy people (19 percent) and to feel rushed for time (35 percent vs. 23 percent). Having too much time and no clear way to fill it was the bigger burden of the two.
AN ADDICT’S FIX
Martin likens the short, temporary pleasure of television to addiction: “Addictive activities produce momentary pleasure but long-term misery and regret,” he says. “People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged. For this kind of person, TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It’s habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out.”
The point of this post is not to slam TV or movies, but to offer A BETTER WAY. That's what education is supposed to do. All legal work has dignity, but education offers choices. I ache when I think of all the wonderful hours my students miss if they haven't yet discovered the magic of reading.